Here, all of the recordings of magnificent Danish tenor Aksel Schiøtz made between 1933 and 1946 -- 270 selections -- are offered in a single 10-disc box set. The musical compass offered herein, though weighted toward Scandinavian composers, is enormous, ranging from Schiøtz' groundbreaking 1945 recording with Gerald Moore of Schubert's song cycle Die schöne Mullerin to swinging, and ever so slightly silly, bits from Bernhard Christensen's jazz oratorio De 24 Timer (1934). Schiøtz had a tumor removed in 1946 that deprived him of the tenor part of his range, so the cutoff point for the set makes sense. The 10 discs in The Complete Aksel Schiøtz Recordings 1933-1946 are available separately; according to Danacord, they will remain that way. The decision to cut the price on the box set was made in response to the changing nature of the classical CD market, and to expand access to the artistry of Schiøtz to as wide an audience as possible.
The book inside the box runs to 338 pages, one of the thickest books for a boxed set we have yet encountered. Inside the book are the texts and translations to everything Schiøtz sings -- even the pop songs -- and a wealth of photographs and other information. The transfers of original 78rpm recordings, made by Andrew Walter at Abby Road Studios, are top drawer, and Schiøtz's singing is phenomenal -- "one in a million" as critic and archivist Tully Potter has put it. While the earlier, full-price incarnation of this set may not have moved to the top of the list of many vocal music fans' priorities owing to its price and the difficulty involved in obtaining a copy, Danacord has removed at least the first of these obstacles. This would be a terrific gift for enthusiasts of vocal music, though bear in mind -- to paraphrase Led Zeppelin -- it is a "whole lotta Schiøtz," and one will need to set aside some time to make the most positive use of its virtues.