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Jussi Björling Collection: Opera Arias & Duets, 1936-1944, Vol. 3

Orchestra , Amilcare Ponchielli , Charles Gounod , Friedrich von Flotow , Georges Bizet , et al. Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Jussi Björling Collection: Opera Arias & Duets, 1936-1944, Vol. 3 + Collection Vol. 4: Opera Arias and Duets 1945 - 1951 + Jussi Björling - Collection, Vol 1
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Product details

  • Conductor: Nils Grevillius
  • Composer: Amilcare Ponchielli, Charles Gounod, Friedrich von Flotow, Georges Bizet, Giacomo Meyerbeer, et al.
  • Audio CD (1 Dec 2003)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos Historical
  • ASIN: B0000W3XMA
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 83,031 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Che Gelida Manina (La Boheme) - Giacomo Puccini
2. Se Quel Guerrier... Celeste Aida - Giuseppe Verdi
3. La Donna E Mobile (Rigoletto) - Giuseppe Verdi
4. Recondita armonia (Tosca) - Giacomo Puccini
5. Cielo E Mar ('La Gioconda') - Amilcare Ponchielli
6. Ch'ella mi creda libera (La fanciulla del West) - Giacomo Puccini
7. Mi batte il cor... O Paradiso (L'africaine) - Giacomo Meyerbeer
8. E Lucevan Le Stelle (Tosca) - Giacomo Puccini
9. Instant charmant... En fermant les yeux (Manon) - Jules Massenet
10. La Fleur Que Tu M'avais Jetee ('Carmen') - Georges Bizet
11. M'appari tutt'amor (Martha) - Friedrich Adolph Ferdinand von Flotow
12. Salut! demeure chaste et pure (Faust) - Charles Gounod
13. Ah si, ben mio (Il trovatore) - Giuseppe Verdi
14. Di Quella Pira (Il Trovatore) - Giuseppe Verdi
15. O soave fanciulla (La Boheme) - Giacomo Puccini
16. E il sol dell'anima (Rigoletto) - Giuseppe Verdi
17. Come Un Bel Di Di Maggio ('Andrea Chenier') - Umberto Giordano
18. Amor ti vieta (Fedora) - Umberto Giordano
19. Nessun Dorma (Turandot) - Giacomo Puccini
20. Recitar!... Vesti la giubba (Pagliacci) - Ruggiero Leoncavallo
See all 23 tracks on this disc

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Questa o quella. 22 Dec 2003
By John Austin HALL OF FAME TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD
This one or that one? Naxos issued a splendid CD of Jussi Bjorling’s operatic records from the 1930s and 1940s in 1999. Three years later Naxos issued this one, which offers almost, but not quite, the same items. The production and the remastering here are in the hands of Stefan Lindstrom, who modestly apologizes for leaving so much surface hiss in (I can’t hear it) but whose work with these originals now leads the field.
Happily, the original recordings were technically excellent for their era, were recorded in the same Stockholm venue, and the orchestra was always directed by one of Bjorling’s mentors, Nils Grevillius. My only gripe is that the bass instruments are given too much prominence in the finale minute of the La Boheme duet.
Bearing in mind that Bjorling had only recently began studying these arias in their original languages at the time these recordings were made, it seems astounding that each aria gets an outstanding performance.
Everything here comes from opera. Concurrently with these recordings, Bjorling recorded a selection of songs by Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Tosti, and others. I hope Naxos is scheduling a reissue of them to add to the gems they have provided here.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Thrilling Young Björling in his First Non-Swedish Arias 25 Feb 2004
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This disc contains the first arias and duets Jussi Björling recorded in any language other than Swedish. Recorded in Stockholm between 1936 and 1944 (and with a three year gap during the War), the first of them were made when he was only 25. He had already become an international star by that time, having made his official major opera début at the Royal Opera in Stockholm at 19. Of course he had been singing all of his life, having even toured the US with his father and two singing brothers as the Björling Quartet when he was only eight. He had recorded some of these arias in Swedish before, but in addition to singing in the original languages here, the improvement in his technique is notable. For instance, his early Swedish recording of 'Di quella pira' (Il Trovatore) was sung down a whole tone from the original, but in the current version he sings it in the original key and the climactic high C's ring out thrillingly.
I'm writing this review before Amazon has listed the precise contents of the disc. I won't take the space to list them, but will try to mention a number of what I think are the highlights. The arias (and two duets) are either in Italian or French; the only German aria here is 'Ach, so fromm' (Martha) but it is sung in Italian as 'M'appari.' There are a few moments where his diction is a bit faulty, especially in the French arias, but this is never a distraction. More important, he seems to know exactly what emotional moment is being expressed and conveys this with his tone color and phrasing. For instance, in the very first selection, 'Che gelida manina' (La Bohème) he captures the doubts and raptures of young love tenderly and ardently.
He manages the penultimate rising phrase at 'Et j'étais une chose à toi!,' from 'The Flower Song' (Carmen) with an exquisite soft tone (the score is marked pp) that is nonetheless passionate. 'En fermant les yeux' (Manon) is shiveringly beautiful, if marred slightly by some decidedly non-French vowel sounds; it also seems to have been recorded almost a half-tone sharp making his high C almost a C sharp! This is the young Björling making some of the most beautiful tenor sounds ever recorded.
'E lucevan le stelle' (Tosca) expresses the utter sadness of Cavaradossi's coming death without the sobbing and gulping so typical of many Italians tenors of the time. And it is ultimately the more effective for that. The purity and elegance of his singing here is of a standard that has rarely been matched.
There are two duets here, both with Swedish soprano Hjördis Schymberg: 'O soave fanciulla' (La Bohème) and 'E il sol dell'anima' (Rigoletto). In the former one hears an even fresher version of the duet he later sang with Victoria de los Angeles in one of the great complete opera recordings of all time, the 1956 'Bohème' conducted by Beecham. The pair's rapturous harmony at their exit will put a lump in your throat. The elegance of the Rigoletto duet is wonderful, and is helped by the nuanced orchestral accompaniment led by the conductor on all these selections, Nils Grevillius.
There are a number of arias here that Björling never sang on stage: the Carmen 'Flower Song' and the Manon aria. He also never sang the two Giordano rôles from 'Andrea Chenier' and 'Fedora'; their two arias ('Come un bel dì di maggio' and 'Amor ti vieta') were recorded in 1944 after his three-year hiatus, and are notable for their fervor and clean line. Radamès was a rôle he sang only very few times. Yet his 'Celeste Aida'is beautifully sung with dramatic heft.
His performance of 'Nessun dorma' (Turandot) is marked by his refusal to croon it as some tenors do. It is a stentorian rebuttal of the cruel queen's order that no one sleep. Finally, two arias by Verdi must be lauded: 'Questa, o quella' (Rigoletto) and 'Di' tu se fedele' (Ballo in maschera). They are virile, cleanly sung, expressive without being histrionic. The same is true of that most maudlin of all Italian arias, 'Vesti la giubba' (Pagliacci); there is no hysterical sobbing or laughing and yet one feels Canio's heart breaking.
This is the young Björling at the beginning of his career. The voice is fresh, thrilling, flexible, utterly solid from top to bottom, and it is operated by a keen intelligence.
This release is not to be missed by those who do not already own a previous incarnation of these performances. It must be said that the transfer from 78s done by Swedish transfer engineer, Stefan Lindström, is expemplary. Thank you, Naxos, for bringing us this wonderful series.
TT=65:34
Scott Morrison
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beware 18 Oct 2004
By Canzone - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I'd give most any Bjorling recording 5 stars, and I do here for the singing. But a big question arises: are these the exact same performances released by EMI on their Bjorling series? I haven't checked every listing, but they sure sound the same.
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