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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


 

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Jussi Björling Collection: Volume 6. The “Erik Odde” Recordings and other popular songs in Swedish - 1931-35
Igor BORGANOFF
(1892-1945)
Nar rosorna vissna och do (When the roses wither and die) [03:27] 
Fred Winter Orchestra/Fred Winter
rec. 19 September 1931
Jules SYLVAIN (1900-1968)
Det ar nagot som binder mitt hjarta vid dig (Something is tying my heart to you) [3:18]
Fred Winter Orchestra/Fred Winter
rec. 12 January 1932
Helge LINDBERG (1898-1973)
Bagdad (Baghdad) [3:07] 
Fred Winter Orchestra/Fred Winter
rec. 14 January 1932
Bert CARSTEN (1905-1989)
Varje litet ord av karlek (Every little word of love) [03:09] 
Hanns Bingang Orchestra/Hanns Bingang
rec. 10 August 1932
Sonja SAHLBERG (1902-1968)
Aj, aj, aj du (Now, now, boy)  [3:05] 
Hanns Bingang Orchestra/Hanns Bingang
rec. 10 August 1932
P. LESSO-VALERIO
Varfor? (Why?) [3:00] 
Hakan von Eichwald Orchestra/Hakan von Eichwald
rec. September / October 1932
Werner Richard HEYMANN (1896-1961)
Nagonstans pa var jord (Somewhere on our earth) [3:10] 
Hanns Bingang Orchestra/Hanns Bingang
rec. 24 November 1932
Erik BAUMANN (1889-1955)
Lappar som le sa roda (Smiling Red Lips) [2:58] 
Folke Andersson Orchestra/Folke Andersson
rec. February 1933
Umberto TOGNARELLI
Allting som ar vackert (Everything beautiful reminds me of you) [2:58] 
Gosta Safbom Soloist Orchestra
rec. August 1933
Erik TILLING
Kanske att vi pa samma drommar bar (Maybe we are dreaming the same dreams)    [2:57] 
Gosta Safbom Soloist Orchestra
rec. August 1933
Per REIDARSON (1879-1954)
Sommarens melodi ar som poesi (Summer's melody is like poetry) [3:06] 
Gosta Safbom Soloist Orchestra
rec. August 1933
Jules SYLVAIN
Dina blaa ogon lovar...roda lappar ger (Your blue eyes promise more than your red lips give) [2:52] 
HMV Orchestra/Sune Waldimir
rec. 10 October 1933
Alice LEBEAU
Karlekens sang (Song of Love)  [2:57] 
HMV Orchestra/Sune Waldimir
rec. 10 October 1933
Lilian RAY (d.1949)
Sag mig god natt (Say good night to me) [3:16] 
Hanns Bingang Orchestra/Hanns Bingang
rec. 13 February 1931
Guy AMMANDT
Slut dina ogon (Close your eyes) [3:20] 
Jens Warny Orchestra/Jens Warny
rec. September 1932
Adrian DAHL (1864-1935)
Bachanal (Bacchanale) [3:10] 
Hjalmar Meissner Orchestra/Hjalmar Meissner
rec. June 1933
Carl Goran NYBLOM (1867-1920)
Brinnande gula flod (Flaming golden stream) [3:05] 
Hjalmar Meissner Orchestra/Hjalmar Meissner
rec. June 1933
Knut O. W. ALMROTH
Tangoflickan (The Tango Girl) [3:07] 
Hjalmar Meissner Orchestra/Hjalmar Meissner
rec. June1933
Jules SYLVAIN
Sag, att du evigt haller mig kar (Say that you will love me for ever) [3:01] 
Sune Waldimir Orchestra/Sune Waldimir
rec. 25 October 1933
Jaques ARMAND
Var det en drom? (Was it a dream?) [3:09] 
Sune Waldimir Orchestra/Sune Waldimir
rec. 25 October 1933
Michael CHRISTGAU (1903-1976)
Brollopsvalsen (Bryllupsvalsen)  [3:03] 
Sune Waldimir Orchestra/Sune Waldimir
rec. 1 May 1935
Georg ENDERS (1898-1954)
Lilla prinsessa (Little Princess)  [3:01] 
Sune Waldimir Orchestra/Sune Waldimir
rec. 1 May 1935
Jussi Björling (tenor) singing as Erik Odde or in popular song under his own name
rec. 1931-35
NAXOS 8.110790 [68.16]

I’d known that Björling recorded dance band songs, not least because he himself wrote of the pseudonymous subterfuge in his autobiography, but before now I’d only heard one of them. Here, in volume six of Naxos’s handsome series devoted to the tenor, is the evidence of those “Erik Odde” sides made between 1931 and 1935. Björling fans will now be in a quandary because, whilst cheap, accessible and eminently collectable, this disc stands at a complete tangent to the Björling of the operatic stage – though some of the popular songs in Swedish do show him in more accustomed guise.

That being the case extensive commentary of these dance tunes – many from the latest films – isn’t really desirable but a few general comments may be in order. Björling, though described at the time as a jazz singer, was actually providing what they called on the record labels “vocal refrain”. Harald Henrysson’s notes are right to make allusions to other popular singers of the time though he’s in error in thinking “Whispering” Jack Smith was English – he was American. To adherents of British Dance Bands of the time and their battery of singers – Al Bowlly, Sam Browne, Sam Costa and the like – Björling will sound curiously uninteresting and uninvolving.

The arrangements played by the bands veer more toward the show band than the dance band as well, and there are some questionable lapses in taste such as the heroically misconceived opening violin cadenza in the Borganoff song. The pervasive sound of the vibraharp ends many of the songs in spongy sentiment and the string heavy, two beat rhythm of these bands tends to sink things deep in inflexibility. There is cod-Baghdad in the Lindberg song – many of these composers are, like Björling, themselves labouring under pseudonyms and all are duly noted in the very fine documentation that comes with the disc. Lindberg actually was Lindberg but Bert Carsten for example was Bert Carsten Nordlander and Guy Ammandt was in reality Gunnar Ahlberg.

Instrumentation includes a couple of decent trumpeters and an interesting alto player; there’s a folksy accordion in the Lasso-Valerio in which the arrangement seems to be paying (unsuccessful) homage to Georges Boulanger. Björling is warm and affectionate though hardly idiomatic; the registers in the Le Beau song don’t sound right however. He essays The Sunshine of Your Smile – this and everything is in Swedish of course – but convinces much more in the Swedish popular songs. Here his voice deepens, the chest swells, and the legato unfolds with magnetic allure. He reserves great heft for the Nyblom, is supply marvellous in the Ammandt, and sings the Enders with real beauty – it’s also rather a beautiful song.
 
So here we have the great tenor in unaccustomed mode. Well transferred and especially well documented acquisition will depend on how much of a Björling completist you really are.
 
Jonathan Woolf

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