FIRST RELEASE! – JUSSI BJÖRLING OCTOBER 15, 1959 COPENHAGEN CONCERT – ON SALE

Copenhagen.CD cover

 

PLEASE NOTE: Only a limited number of CDs will be available to fill orders placed between June 7 and September 7, 2016. We ask for and will appreciate your patience and understanding. If you place a CD order during that time delivery may be delayed until after 9/7.

 

“Now, the Jussi Bjorling Society USA unveils an undiscovered Bjorling treasure – a Copenhagen recital from October 15, 1959. According to Sue Flaster, speaking on behalf of the Society, the recording, brought to light by collector John Haley, has been released on the JSP label, with the engineering entrusted to the estimable SETH B. WINNER and CD booklet essays by HARALD HENRYSSON and OPERA NEWS contributor STEPHEN HASTINGS.” – Brian Kellow, Opera News

Review from www.musicweb-international.com:
RECORDING OF THE MONTH

Jussi Björling (tenor)
Copenhagen Concert
Bertil Bokstedt (piano)
The Voice of Firestone Orchestra & Chorus/Howard Barlow
rec. live, Falkoner Centret, Copenhagen, 15 October 1959 (1-17); NBC studio, Rockefeller Center, New York, 10 March 1952 (18-28) JSP RECORDS JSP682 [67:50]

I had hardly reckoned on some previously unknown Jussi Björling recordings cropping up. The record companies have, over the last few years, plundered radio and other archives sources for anything imaginable. Then along come these tapes and they’re in excellent sound quality too. They were recorded in Copenhagen on 15 October 1959 in the then brand new Falkoner Centret – a concert hall with superlative acoustics seating 2000 listeners. The venue was kitted out with state-of-the-art recording equipment, which was employed to record most of what was happening there. The material was then hidden in the archives – until now.

The concert took place less than a year before Jussi Björling’s demise on 9 September 1960. Only a couple of weeks earlier his heart condition made itself felt during the recording of Madama Butterfly in Rome. With this having happened it was expected that he would be in less than top shape but there is little evidence of that here. In a few places his fortes can sound a bit strained but his breath control is as superb as earlier and his legato singing is exemplary. The beauty of his silvery voice is unmistakable – it is the Jussi we know from so many outstanding recordings.

The sound quality of the recording is first class and considering the age is clear and dynamic. Seth B. Winner had excellent basic material at his disposal but he has adjusted to take account of some deviations in volume and has also removed disturbing noises like coughs and squeaks. The piano is balanced a mite closer than the voice but this is no drawback. It makes us experience Bertil Bokstedt’s elegant phrasing and exquisite timing. He was a good listener as well as a promoter – the perfect accompanist.

We recognise the repertoire. Here are many of the songs Björling recorded in 1952 for the LP Jussi Björling in Song: Brahms`s Die Mainacht, Liszt’s Es muss ein Wunderbares sein, Wolf’s Verborgenheit, Schubert’s Die Forelle and Die böse Farbe, the latter from Die schöne Müllerin and for the umpteenth time one thinks “What a pity he didn’t study the whole song-cycle.” These are songs that were close to his heart and you hear that in the warmth, the insight and the lovable phrasing. The inward, eternally beautifully sung Es muss ein Wunderbares sein gives rise to graceful shudders and the scaled-down final phrases are overwhelming.

The Nordic songs are just as dear and agreeable: P-B’s Jungfrun under lind, Alfvén’s Skogen sover, sung with such weightless beauty at pianissimo – don’t wake ’em – Sibelius’ Demanten på marssnön and Säv, säv, susa. Here Bokstedt’s sensitive accompaniment contributes to intensify the mourning song about the unhappy Ingalill who died in the waves. Jussi’s voice trembles from empathy in the final phrase “Waves, waves, lap!”. Grieg’s En svane and En drøm are permeated by a rare intensity. Such a pity he didn’t include Alfvén’s setting of Tove Ditlevsen’s Så tag mit hjerte, the only song in Danish in his repertoire and recorded in the studio a good half-year earlier. The music was left on the piano in Jussi’s apartment in Stockholm. Which could hardly have made him very jolly. Of this discord you notice nothing in his singing.

As was his wont, Jussi Björling dilutes the song repertoire with some opera arias. Tamino’s first aria from Die Zauberflöte, was his warming-up number, and he always sang Mozart in Swedish. Bizet’s Flower Song was placed between the German and the Nordic songs and it’s a song in which he generates a mighty energy. Come un bel di di Maggio from Andrea Chenier was another favourite aria, and again he sings with impeccable legato. What a pity he did neither Don José nor Chenier on stage. Tosti’s Ideale and Richard Strauss’ Zueignung round off this audibly appreciated concert, which we now, after 56 years, can enjoy in excellent sound.

There is a substantial bonus as well: The Voice of Firestone from 10 March 1952. It was issued not long ago as a filler for Immortal Performances’ restored Il trovatore from the Met in 1941. The difference with Seth Winner’s transfer is that this has a somewhat stronger out-signal and thus the dynamics are a little wider. Richard Caniell at Immortal Performances cleaned things up a bit and took away a lot of the opening commercials and shortened Hugh James’ announcements. Otherwise one can note that Jussi´s voice seven years earlier was lighter and somewhat freer. He makes the best of Mrs Firestone’s obligatory opening and concluding melodies and Nessun dorma is sung with real glow. Tosti’s L’alba separa salla luce l’ombra – written for Caruso – sounds excellent. Speaks’ Sylvia and Victor Herbert’s Neapolitan Love Song are spoiled by a glutinous chorus – but Jussi sings well.

The 24-page-booklet is a further bonus with among other things a detailed historical account by Harald Henrysson of Jussi Björling’s appearances in Denmark. They spanned some 28 years: all of his adult career. It’s lavishly illustrated. The vocal expert Stephen Hastings, author of the book The Björling Sound, contributes a profound analysis of the Copenhagen concert, full of insight as usual. There are also contributions by John H. Haley, Dan Shea and Seth B. Winner. This is a quality issue, in other words and should be in every Jussi Björling collection.

This CD is dedicated to the memory of Lars Hemmingsson (1939–2015), founder and honorary chairman of the Jussi Björling Society in Sweden, where he was untiringly active until his final illness.

Göran Forsling

Contents
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 – 1791)
Die Zauberflöte:
1. Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön (sung in Swedish) [4:16]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833 – 1897)
2. Die Mainacht [4:08]
Franz LISZT (1811 – 1886)
3. Es muss ein Wunderbares sein [2:24]
Hugo WOLF (1860 – 1903)
4. Verborgenheit [3:22]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797 – 1828)
5. Die Forelle [2:04]
Die schöne Müllerin:
6. Die böse Farbe [2:36]
Georges BIZET (1838 – 1875)
Carmen:
7. La fleur que tu m’avais jetée (Flower Song) [4:06]
8. Björling announces Peterson-Berger song as substitute for the originally programmed
Alfvén Så tag mit hjerte [0:21]
Wilhelm PETERSON-BERGER (1867 – 1942)
9. Jungfrun under lind [2:50]
Hugo ALFVÉN (1872 – 1960)
10. Skogen sover [2:39]
Jean SIBELIUS (1865 – 1957)
11. Demanten på marssnön [3:26]
12. Säv, säv, susa [2:35]
Edvard GRIEG (1843 – 1907)
13. En svane [2:44]
14. Ein Traum (sung in Norwegian as En drøm) [2:13]
Umberto GIORDANO (1867 – 1948)
Andrea Chenier:
15. Come un bel di di maggio [2:53]
Paolo TOSTI (1846 – 1916)
16. Ideale [3:42]
Richard STRAUSS (1864 – 1949)
17. Zueignung [2:16]
The Voice of Firestone
18. Opening announcement & Idabelle Smith FIRESTONE (1874 – 1954)
If I Could Tell You [1:39]
19. Announcements [0:32]
20. Oley SPEAKS (1874 – 1948) Sylvia [2:35]
21. Announcements [0:39]
22. Giacomo PUCCINI (1858 – 1924) Nessun dorma from Turandot [3:30]
23. Announcements [0:43]
24. Paolo TOSTI L’alba separa dalla luce l’ombra [2:20]
25. Announcements [0:28]
26. Victor HERBERT (1859 – 1924) Neapolitan Love Song from The Princess Pat [2:41]
27. Announcements [0:54]
28. Idabelle Smith FIRESTONE In My Garden; and Concluding Announcements [1:50]

PLEASE NOTE: Only a limited number of CDs will be available to fill orders placed between June 7 and September 7, 2016. We ask for and will appreciate your patience and understanding. If you place a CD order during that time delivery may be delayed until after 9/7.

 

JUSSI BJÖRLING OCTOBER 15, 1959 COPENHAGEN CONCERT – FIRST RELEASE
$20.00 POSTPAID  We can Only send orders to the US.

Temporarily Unavailable

Jussi Björling Live: American broadcast concerts 1937-1956

Recordings of Jussi Björling’s American Radio Concerts on
Track for Release in September 2010

by Dan Shea

JUSSI BJÖRLING LIVE, $45 including shipping and handling

For the first time, most of Jussi Björling’s US radio and TV performances have been gathered together on 4 brilliantly-remastered CDs, including previously unreleased performances.The splendid 32-page booklet contains essays on Björling’s US career, the Swedish view of Björling’s US activities, and previously unpublished photos. This elegant set is only available to members of the Jussi Björling Society-USA.
Membership in the Society is on a calendar-year basis; individual membership is $35; family memberships are $50.

Please send checks made out to JBS-USA to Dan Shea, at
3337 Conservancy Lane
Middleton, WI 53562

Jussi Björling introduced himself to America not by his first performances at the Metropolitan Opera starting in 1938, but rather in a remarkable series of three nationwide radio broadcasts made during 1937, on November 28 and December 5 and 19. As you can hear from a few surviving recordings made of those broadcasts, the 26-year-old tenor’s brilliant voice and innate musicality projected beautifully via the microphone and the resulting attention enabled him to get a quick start to what became his major career in this country.

Interestingly, the radio network that produced those three concerts apparently managed to record all three of them, but to date the known recordings of the first and third concerts have not survived well and do not provide very pleasurable listening. (Of course we are glad to have at least some trace of announcer Milton Cross’s warm introduction of young Jussi and of his performance of arias from Bohème and Rigoletto as well as a duet from Cavalleria rusticana with Maria Jeritza from the first concert, and of “Celeste Aïda” and “Land, du välsignade,” apparently from the third concert, whatever their condition!)

Unfortunately the early aluminum discs that were used for recording at that time were easily ruined by repeated playback with blunt needles, and it seems to have been the very attractiveness of Jussi’s singing that may have doomed many of the recordings of that singing.

But luckily at least one copy of a recording of the December 5 concert did survive in reasonably good condition, thanks to a Swedish-American collector who made a copy available to the Swedish Radio’s archive. And thanks to Harald Henrysson’s connections to that archive, and the always-helpful cooperation of the Björling Museum in Borlänge, we now can make available Jussi’s performances in that second concert in what seems the “best-available” known recording.

The JB Society has been working for most of the past decade to recover quality sources for recordings of the radio broadcasts made by the great Swedish tenor during his visits to America during the years 1937 to 1959. Thanks to the essential support of collectors in the US and Sweden, and to the Björling Museum and its past and present curators, as well as to the cooperation of the Björling family, considerable progress has been made in this task of collecting the best-possible broadcast sources. It’s a wonderful story of friendly cooperation, not always to be assumed among collectors of this genre of recordings!

Good sources are important, but the latest technology of sound engineering can lead to dramatic improvements, and we are fortunate to have one of today’s leaders in the field, Seth Winner, as ace engineer for our project. Even better, as a long-time admirer of our tenor, Seth had himself accumulated some extraordinary recordings of Björling performances that he has made available to this project. The results to date are extraordinary, as you will be able to see (or hear) for yourself now. In fact you can sample some of our work, by listening to these sound clips made available here:

(1). From the Voice of Firestone program of November 19, 1945, listen to the opening announcements and then Jussi singing “If I Could Tell You“, and the Stephen Foster favorite, “I dream of Jeanie with the light brown hair.”

(2), (3). Two excerpts from the October 23, 1949 Standard Hour concert from San Francisco: a very showy “Che gelida manina” and a powerful “Ah, fuyez, douce image.”

(4). From the September 30, 1951, Standard Hour concert, we offer what might be Jussi’s best performance of Tosti’s song “L’alba separa dalla luce l’ombra.”

(5). The story of how we were able to obtain and reproduce the Carnegie Hall concert of April 11, 1949, a benefit for the Swedish Seamen’s Welfare Fund called “Sweden in Music,” is a fine one. In brief: The major hero here is Swedish collector Harold Löwing who long was able to obtain the original acetate discs of the WNYC-FM broadcast and keep them in good condition. Last winter Harald Henrysson explained our project to Harold and got his permission to carry the entire concert (a heavy set of about 8 discs) to Charleston, for mailing on to Seth Winner. Then Seth performed prodigies of engineering technique (with some applied chemistry and physics) to scrub a certain mold from the discs and then prepare the grooves with a lubricant that would allow optimal playback.  Next Seth digitized the recordings and could begin to use electronic harmonic analysis to bring out the music in the transformed recording.
Listen here to Jussi’s last encore on that occasion, the lovely Peterson-Berger song “Jungfrun under lind.”

(6). We end with one of Jussi’s standard encores, from the Bell Telephone Hour broadcast of March 15, 1948:  Listen to Orlando Morgan’s “Clorinda” and, if you like, imagine that voice being used to much better effect in a song by Schubert, Strauss, or Rachmaninov! Luckily we have lots of those in our complete edition as described below, and due off the presses in late summer.

  ___________________________________________________

“Jussi Björling Live: American broadcast concerts 1937-1956”
[Notation from JBP = JB Phonography:  (XY0A) refers to the A-th recorded performance of year 19XY, thus (4504) refers to 4th recorded performance of year 1945.]

==> CD1
Voice of Firestone, 19 Nov. 1945  (4504)
If I could tell you; An Sylvia; Le reve (Manon); Jeanie; Mʼappari (Martha); In my garden.

VofF, 21 Jan. 1946
  (4602), with 2nd and 4th selections sung with E. Steber:
If I could tell you; Will you remember (Maytime); For you alone; Miserere (Trovatore).

VofF, 25 March 1946 (4603)
If I could tell you; Jeg elsker dig; Berceuse (Jocelyn); Because; Neapolitan love song; In my garden.

Ford Sunday Evening Hour, 12 May 1946 (4605)
Salut! demeure (Faust); Jungfrun under lind; Land, du välsignade; Mother oʼmine.

SFOpera, 25 Sept. 1949 (4905)
O soave fanciulla (w. Albanese; Kritz).

We, the People, 16 Feb. 1951 [p. 234, (A72) of JB Phonog.]
Interview with Dorothy Caruso; Vesti la giubba (Pagliacci).

==> CD2
Standard Hour, 23 Oct. 1949  (4906),  2nd & 4th selections are duets w. A-L Björling:
Che gelida; O soave (Bohème); Ah! fuyez (Manon); Chamber scene (Roméo et J.).

Standard Hour, 30 Sept. 1951  (5108),  4th selection a duet w. B. Sayão:
Cielo e mar!; Lʼalba separa; E lucevan (Tosca); Chamber scene (Roméo et Juliette).

Sweden in Music, 11 April 1949  (4902), Carnegie Hall.
Five Swedish songs + Lʼalba separa.

==> CD #3
Bell Tel. Hr, March 15, 1948  (4801)
Mattinata; Lilacs; Clorinda; Je suis seul…Ah! fuyez (Manon).

Bel Tel. Hr, April 4, 1949  (4901)
Ständchen (Schubert); Neapolitan love song; Addio alla mamma (Cavalleria rusticana).

Bell Tel. Hr, Nov. 7, 1949  (4907)
Ständchen (Strauss); Jeanie; Che gelida manina.

Bell Tel. Hr, Oct. 23, 1950 (5006)
O paradiso; In silence of night; Zueignung; Come un bel dì (Andrea Chénier).

Bell Tel. Hr, Jan.8, 1951 (5101)
Le reve (Manon); Jungfrun under lind; For you alone; Donna non vidi mai (Manon Lesc.)

Producerʼs Showcase, Jan. 30, 1956 (5601), audio of telecast with R. Tebaldi:
O sventata; Che gelida manina; Mi chiamano Mimì; O soave fanciulla (Bohème).

==>  CD #4
JB Greets America, Oct. 3, 1937 (3705)
Spoken greeting addressed to Milton Cross about upcoming radio concerts.

GM Concert: Opera night, Dec. 5, 1937 (3708)
Recondita armonia (Tosca); O paradiso (Lʼafricana); Solenne in questʼora (Forza) with D. Dixon;  Quittons ce lieu…Anges purs (Faust) with Dixon, G. Moore.

Bell Tel. Hr, March 12, 1951 (5102)
Vesti la giubba; The rose of Tralee; Celeste Aida (Aida).

JB interview, Aug. 15, 1949 (4903)
Answers to Bill Arthur of Australian Broadcasting Comm. on his best recording, favorite role, fishing hobby, family.

Studio rec. 1920, alternate take 1 of Sommarglädje, by Björling Juvenile trio.
Studio rec. 1933, alternate take 1 of Kärlekens sång, by “Erik Odde.”
Studio rec. 1949, alternate take 1 of Berceuse (Jocelyn), by J.B.