Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

1. Bizet – Au fond du temple saint from ‘Les Pecheurs des Perles’ – with Robert Merrill (baritone) (1951)
2 Bizet – Flower Song from ‘Carmen’ (1938)
3. Massenet – Je suis seul from ‘Manon’ (1945)
4. Ah! lève-toi soleil from ‘Roméo et Juliette’(1946)
5. Meyerbeer – Mi batte il cor from ‘L’Africana (1937)
6. Verdi – Celeste Aida from ‘Aida’(1951)
7. Verdi – Solenne in quest’ora from ‘La Forza del Destino’ (1951)
8. Verdi – Qual pallor from ‘Don Carlos’(1951)
9. Verdi – Si, pel ciel from ‘Otello’(1951)
10. Ponchielli – Cielo e mar from ‘La Gioconda’ (1951)
11. Puccini – Dionna non vidi mai from ‘Manon Lescaut’ (1948)
12. Puccini - Che gelida la manina from ‘La Bohème’ (!936)
13. Puccini – O Mimi, tu piu non torni from ‘La Bohème’(1951)
14. Mascagni – O Lola bianca from ‘Cavalleria Rusticana’(1948)
15. Mamma, quel vino e generoso from ‘Cavalleria Rusticana’ (1944)
16. Leoncavallo – Vesti la giubba from ‘I Pagliacci’ (1944)
17. Leoncavallo – Mattinata (1944)
18. Tosti – Ideale (1937)
19. Alfvén – Skogen sover, with Harry Ebert (piano) (1938)
Jussi Bjørling (tenor) with Orchestra cond. Grevillius (2,5,12,15,16,17), Orchestra of the Royal Opera Stockholm/Grevillius (3,4,11,14,18), RCA Victor Orchestra/Cellini (1,6,7,8,9,10,13)
REGIS RRC 1080 [74:58]


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Jussi Bjørling may not be the greatest singer of the last century, but he undoubtedly had one of the most supremely beautiful voices. He concentrated on maximising the powerful expressive effects of its beauty, and sang in a straightforward, unaffected way, which in its way is wonderful; there’s a sense of honesty in his singing, which makes you believe that he felt deeply all the emotions in the music, and wasn’t just ‘portraying’ them. Take that old tenor’s war-horse ‘Vesti la giubba’, often the occasion for a display of crocodile tears. He doesn’t bother with any histrionic sobbing, just sings it very sensitively, giving it a dignity which is most touching.

It’s interesting to compare the 1936 studio recording of ‘Che gelida manina’ with the one on the Beecham complete recording of 1956. Most of the details of expression, phrasing and breathing remain the same, and the voice has lost remarkably little – in fact, none - of its vibrancy in the intervening twenty years. Yet the later performance has an unhurried intimacy which raises it to a higher level, and in this, of course, Beecham no doubt played a part.

Robert Merrill appears in a number of the items apart from the Pearl Fishers duet (N.B. to Regis, watch your apostrophe – in this case it should either be after the letter s or not there at all!) and the duet from Otello, Si, per ciel is particularly memorable. Bjørling was always careful to include some music from Sweden in his recitals, and the CD finishes with a moving performance of an exquisite Alfvén song, which makes a satisfyingly thoughtful ending to this attractive compilation.

Gwyn Parry-Jones

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