Historic Masters Ltd. Is delighted to be associated with, and to have contributed to, this CD release of little known material by one of the truly great tenors of the twentieth century. In the course of our researches we have discovered original metal parts for three recordings by Jussi Björling which were not released by EMI at the time they were made. All three have now been issued as part of our Historic Masters series and we are delighted to be able to make copies available for transfer to this CD. The tenor solo from Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de perles was recorded in April 1947. Given that it is Björling’s only studio version of this aria, it seems surprising that it remained unissued until November 1977, late in the LP era. Only then was it included in an EMI boxed set entitled The Art of Jussi Björling. The other two items, the songs Mattinata and For you alone, rank amongst our most sensational discoveries in the EMI archive. These were the very first recordings made by Björling as an adult on 4 September 1929. Piano accompanied, they were almost certainly intended as tests to determine Björling’s suitability for a recording contract. Listening to these first recordings, there can be no surprise that Björling clearly passed this examination with flying colours. Three months later he was in the studio for what was in effect the launching of his hugely successful recording career with HMV and Victor. In the first few months of that career Björling repeated both songs – this time with full orchestral accompaniment. Perhaps this explains why the original tests were forgotten and, indeed, were marked in March 1930 as ‘destroyed’. In 1952, RCA, using the recently developed tape technology, decided to record a selection of the songs that Björling performed at his recitals. It is unlikely that all of these pieces would have been given at one time, but they were certainly included in his programmes over the years and give a very representative selection of the range of his repertoire. Apart from German Lieder, he always liked to sing some Swedish pieces, as well as works by the Finnish composer Sibelius, who complimented him on his interpretations of his songs, particularly those written to Swedish words. This recording from 1952 remained on the catalogue for many years as an LP in the USA, but it was less widely available in Europe and can now be heard here for the first time in a CD transfer from the original master tape. It finds Björling in particularly glorious voice.
Extract from the booklet
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.