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Victor Schiřler (piano)
The Great Danish Pianist : Volume 5
rec. 1925-1962
DANACORD DACOCD872-73 [77:49 + 77:48]

There’s no indication that Danacord has reached the end of its restorations of the studio and off-air legacy of pianist Victor Schiřler. Volume 5 revisits two of his concerto calling cards, the Tchaikovsky and Grieg, both of which can be heard in alternative versions in previous volumes. He recorded the Tchaikovsky commercially in 1945 – on Tono 78s with Carl von Garaguly - and a 1950 remake (it’s in volume 2) with Tuxen. If you know these previous readings you won’t be surprised by this 1961 live Copenhagen version with Garaguly, as it demonstrates the consistency of purpose and meticulous intelligence the pianist invariably brought to his performances. Timings differ by a few seconds from the 1950 recording. Clarity and nobility and an avoidance of bombast mark out his Tchaikovsky. He is a drily witty performer too, rhythmically precise, commanding in the cadenza, and as always he brings out the village sororities in the slow movement with avid engagement – this was especially the case with the 1950 Tuxen set.

The Grieg (Jensen, Helsinki, live 1962) shares the absolute consistency of approach of the Tchaikovsky. If you could map it over the 1948 studio recording (see volume 1) it would fit almost perfectly, give ort take a few temporal shifts. Only a few technical frailties mar the stylistically apt, stylish playing, and these generally come at the beginning of the first two movements, after which he plays himself in.

There are two trios to enjoy, products of a 1952 session with sweet-toned violinist Charles Senderovitz and cellist Erling Blöndal Bengtsson, the last named a handsome and ongoing presence in Danacord’s release programme. The trio performs Haydn and Mozart with elegance and refinement, and fortunately HMV ensured that the cellist wasn’t relegated to backroom status as happened on some other recordings of the period. Senderovitz didn’t record much so this is a valuable restoration – catch him with Wandy Tworek playing Riisager on a Tworek twofer from Danacord.

The inaugural volume in this series presented the pianist’s earliest recording made acoustically in 1924 for Nordisk Polyphon and this latest volume returns to these early sessions giving us the missing side – a copy of which turned up in the interim – of HMV M95 and the other early HMV disc made in London in 1925. There’s plenty of rubato in Chopin’s Nocturne Op.9 No.2, a recording illuminated by refined right hand phrasing and Etudes with suitably teasing rhythm. Schioler recorded the Gärtner-Friedman Wienertanz No.1 just before Friedman himself recorded it for English Columbia. The sequence of 78s made in the 1940s and 50s reveal similar affinities and qualities. His Grieg Halling ends with convincing aplomb and his Sinding is to the style born. He was an elegant and refined player not given to fanciful or flirtatious gestures at the keyboard. His Chopin may be considered a little reserved by some but the post-war recordings here, which include the First Ballade, three etudes from Op.10 and a couple of Nocturnes, provide manifold evidence of his superior musicianship.

Claus Byrith’s two-page notes outline matters discographical with clarity and affection and the transfers are fine. Far showier famous performers have proved far less musical and convincing than the lugubrious-looking but musically exemplary Victor Schiřler.

Jonathan Woolf

Peter Tchaikovsky (1840-1892)
Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23
Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Carl von Garaguly
Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)
Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16
Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Thomas Jensen
Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)
Nocturne No. 2 in E flat Major, Op. 9 No. 2 [4:17]
Étude Op. 10 No 12 in C minor
Étude Op. 10 No. 7
Eduard Gärtner (1801-1877) / Ignaz Friedman (1882-1948)
Wienertanz No. 1 [3:47]
Edvard Grieg
Halling, Op. 70 [2:09]
Christian Sinding (1856-1941)
Frühlingsrauschen, Op. 32 No. 3 [2:22]
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Piano Trio No. 39 in G major, Hob.XV:25 [16:07]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Piano Trio No. 4 in E major, K542 [16:56]
Frédéric Chopin
Nocturne No. 5 in F sharp minor, Op. 15 No. 2 [3:48]
Nocturne No. 19 in E minor, Op. 72 No. 1 [4:07]
Impromptu No. 1 in A flat major, Op. 29 [3:54]
Berceuse in D flat major, Op. 57 [4:10]
Étude Op. 10 No. 3 in E major [4:35]
Étude Op. 10 No. 4 in C sharp minor [2:11]
Étude Op. 10 No. 5 in G flat major [1:37]
Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23, Op. 15 No. 2 [8:04]
Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
Rondo capriccioso in E major, Op. 14 [6:58]
Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
Prelude Op. 3 No 2 in C sharp minor [3:54]
Victor Schiřler (piano): Charles Senderovitz (violin): Erling Blöndal Bengtsson (cello)

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