Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


CD REVIEW

Some items
to consider


New App by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra for iOS and Android!

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

Not available in the USA

CD: Crotchet
Download: Classicsonline


Jussi Björling Collection - Vol. 7
Emil SJÖGREN (1853 – 1918)
1. I drömmen du är mig nära (In My Dreams You Are Near Me) [2:40]
August KÖRLING (1842 – 1919)
2. Vita rosor (White Roses) [2:30]
Wilhelm PETERSON-BERGER (1867 – 1942)
3. När jag för mig själv i mörka skogen går (When I Walk Alone in the Dark Forest) [2:13]
4. Bland skogens höga furustammar (Among the High Fir-Trees in the Forest) [2:45]
Carl SJÖBERG (1861 – 1900)
5. Tonerna (Music Visions) [3:14]
Trad.
6. Ack Värmeland du sköna (Ah Värmland, Thou Fairest) [3:15]
7. Allt under himmelens fäste (Beneath the Dome of the Sky) [3:09]
Mogens SCHRADER (1894 – 1934)
8. Sommarnatt (Summer Night) [3:09]
Wilhelm STENHAMMAR (1871 – 1927)
9. Sverige (Sweden) [2:50]
Ragnar ALTHÉN (1883 – 1961)
10. Land du välsignade (Thou Blessed Country) [2:35]
Ragnar WIDESTEDT (1887 – 1954)
11. Sjung din hela längtan ut (Sing Out Your Whole Yearning) [3:15]
Prince GUSTAF (1827 – 1852)
12. Sjungom studentens lyckliga dag (Let Us Sing about the Happy Days of Students) [3:07]
Ragnar WIDESTEDT
13. Nämner du Sverige (If You Mention Sweden) [3:08]
Hugo ALFVÉN (1872 – 1960)
14. Skogen sover (The Forest Asleep) [2:26]
Ejnar EKLÖF (1886 – 1954)
15. Morgon (Morning) [2:32]
Gustaf NORDQVIST (1886 – 1949)
16. Bön i ofredstid (Prayer in Time of War) [2:44]
17. Bisp Thomas frihetssång (Bishop Thomasä Song of Freedom) [2:05]
18. Till havs (Towards the Sea) [2:16]
Sven SALÉN (1890 – 1969)                   
19. Sången till havet (Song to the Sea) [2:36]
20. Visa kring slånblom och månskära (Song of Blackthorn and Crescent Moon) [2:55]
Wilhelm PETERSON-BERGER
21. Jungfrun under lind (The Maiden under the Linden-Tree) [2:51]
Jussi Björling (tenor)
with Nils Grevillius and his Orchestra (1-2, 5-13) (tr. 12 also with male quartet); with Orchestra/Nils Grevillius (3-4); with Harry Ebert (piano) (14-15); with Sune Waldimir and his Orchestra (16-17); with Orchestra/Bertil Bokstedt) (18 – 21)
rec. 18 December 1929 (1-2), 29 September 1930 (3-4), 7 October 1936 (5-7),  8 October 1936 (8), 26 January 1937 (9-10), 22 April 1937 (11), 28 April 1938 (12), 30 May 1938 (13), 1 March 1940 (14-15), 5 April 1944 (16-17), 30 September 1953 (18-21)
NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.110791
[58:21]

 

Experience Classicsonline


In the seventh volume of the Naxos Björling series we meet the tenor in Swedish songs, recorded between 1929 (when he was not yet 19!) and 1953, his last 78 rpm recordings. The songs can be roughly divided in two categories: nationalist or patriotic songs and songs that pay tribute to the beauty of nature which also is a kind of nationalism. Some of the songs are by important composers with at least some international reputation, like Alfvén, Peterson-Berger and Stenhammar, others by composers with a standing mainly within Sweden – and there are also songs by more or less musical amateurs. This was in fact the repertoire through which Jussi Björling reached a popularity among ‘common’ people in his native country that is unparalleled. He often included them in his recital programmes, primarily as encores, some of them also in his international programmes.

The songs are presented chronologically, which gives the listener an opportunity to follow his development. It is quite stunning to hear the first two songs, recorded just before Christmas 1929, a few weeks before his nineteenth birthday. All the characteristics are there: the smooth, even tone, the musical phrasing, the breath control and knowing that this is in fact a teenage boy it is easy to disregard from some uncertainly, from the weak lower notes and the somewhat stiff delivery of the text. It should be noted that Emil Sjögren, who wrote I drömmen du är mig nära, was the first important composer of art songs in Sweden. At the next session, less than a year later, the voice is already fuller, the attack more vital. The two songs by Peterson-Berger remained in his repertoire and were recorded again in 1957, coupled on an EP with Stenhammar’s Sverige, Sjöberg’s Tonerna and Althén’s Land du välsignade – all of them heard on early recordings here. The EP was my very first gramophone record and being for a while the one and only I played it almost continuously. The orchestra sounds immensely better than on these early recordings and it is hard to believe that 27 years separate the Peterson-Berger recordings. The mature Björling, 47 at the time, had greater authority and greater intensity but the voice is in the main the same – slightly darker in the late 1950s. When he set down Tonerna, one of his favourite songs, for the first time in 1936 he was a fully fledged tenor on the threshold to an international career and he ends the song on a wonderful diminuendo. He does the same 21 years later and both readings should be unsurpassed, were it not for the fact that in 1952 he recorded the song with piano – issued on the LP “Jussi Björling in Song” and that recording is the most masterly ever of any song by any singer. Strong words, I know but I won’t withdraw from them an iota. That LP, by the way, was issued by Naxos about four years ago, with some earlier Lieder recordings added for good measure (see review).

If he is at his lyrical best in Tonerna he is both powerfully brilliant and weakly lyrical in Ack Värmeland du sköna. This folksong from the province of Värmland in Western Sweden has become internationally famous, at least among jazz diggers, after Stan Getz heard it and recorded it, but then entitled Dear old Stockholm. There is also some melodic likeness with the main theme in Smetana’s Moldau, and since Smetana worked for several years in Gothenburg he may have heard the song and assimilated the tune – but I doubt he heard it sung as well as Jussi Björling. The only non-Swedish composer here is Danish Mogens Schrader, whose Sommarnatt is a fine vehicle for Jussi’s flexible voice, sung here with infallible legato and rounded off with a glorious high C.

Sverige, sometimes regarded as the second national anthem of Sweden, was originally conceived for mixed choir as part of the cantata Ett folk. The lyrics are by Nobel Prize winner Verner von Heidenstam. As a choral piece it is enormous gripping – I have sung it on numerous occasions – but also as a solo song Jussi Björling catches all the warmth and nobility.

Another song normally heard by male choirs is Sjungom studentens lyckliga dar. It was composed by a member of the Royal Family, the second son of King Oscar I. Prince Gustaf died very young but some of his music is still performed and this jolly song for students leaving high school is known by most Swedes. It is sung here by a male quartet and Jussi comes in midway through the song. But it is of special interest since this was the song with which he began his career at the age of four, singing it together with his brothers.

Hugo Alfvén wrote a number of excellent songs, none better than Skogen sover, which Björling sings with superb legato. This song and Eklöf’s Morgon were recorded with piano accompaniment in the US in 1940 and unlike the rest of the songs here they were issued on HMV’s international DB series. Gustaf Nordqvist was a prolific song composer and Till havs is no doubt the best known, primarily through Jussi. It is a brilliant showpiece while P-B’s Jungfrun under lind is one of the most beautiful love songs in Swedish. The two songs by Sven Salén – once the winner of an Olympic bronze medal in sailing and founder of one of Sweden’s largest shipping companies – were not in Jussi’s recital repertoire but he recorded them specifically for the benefit of a charity organization. The pompous Sången till havet shows the old sailor’s fascination for the sea while the other song is a gentle and heartfelt painting of Swedish summer nights.

Having lived with these songs for most of my life they are today second nature but I am sure also non-Scandinavians will be able to enjoy them. After all I loved Italian songs long before I ever visited that country. And – hearing Jussi Björling in whatever repertoire is always a treat. The audio restoration engineer Stefan Lindström has been ‘extremely economical with noise reduction’ to preserve as much as possible of Björling’s unique timbre. And Harald Henrysson’s has as always poured from his cornucopia of knowledge for the tremendously informative and well written notes. Another disc to treasure in this invaluable series.

Göran Forsling 

 

 


 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.