A half century after his death in 1960, Swedish tenor Jussi Björling remains one of the most beloved singers in the world. He spent forty-five of his forty-nine years performing in public, rapidly conquering opera-house and concert stages on both sides of the Atlantic. Along the way, he left a vast recorded legacy that continues to enchant lovers of vocal music and inspire young singers. In this ground-breaking book, Stephen Hastings analyzes more than four hundred of the great tenor's recordings, comparing them with the output of a hundred other tenors, from Caruso to Alagna. The repertoire ranges from brief art songs by Schubert and Sibelius to entire opera recordings--some made in the studio, others captured live. What emerges is a richly layered portrait of this most musical of singers. As Hastings's comparisons demonstrate, Björling left his unique imprint on all the scores he sang, combining a perennial freshness of approach with the richly inflected phrasing made possible by a perfectly honed technique.
Born in London and educated in Oxford, Stephen Hastings has been the Milan correspondent of Opera News since 1991 and editor in chief of the Italian monthly Musica for the past twelve years.
I devoured The Björling Sound with unashamed greed and great pleasure. --F. Paul Driscoll, editor in chief, Opera News
His passages on Gounod's Faust and Roméo et Juliette are a masterpiece of sensitive analysis. NEWSLETTER OF THE SWEDISH JUSSI BJOERLING SOCIETY [Stefan Johansson]
Remarkable new book. . . . Insightful scholarship and freshly evocative writing that will send Bjo"rling's fans back to their favourite recordings and will win the tenor many admirers. ***** [Highest ranking, and book of the month] BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE [John Allison]
[Hastings's] analyses are detailed, well written, and clear. . . . _The Björling Sound: A Recorded Legacy
has become a standard work, like The Callas Legacy
of John Ardoin. OPERA NEDERLAND Full review at http://www.operanederland.nl/Boeken%20Bjoering.htm
Comparison between recordings and live performances . . . give great insight into the reasons why particular interpretations of the same piece can vary to an enormous degree. . . . Listing the recordings by composer is a stroke of genius and means that the reader can dip in and out without losing any continuity to the progression of Björling's career. . . . Should be devoured by anyone interested in the art of singing. VOCALIMAGES Full review at http://vocalimages.com/?page_id=1097
An impressive documentation of Björling's sound. . . . Lively language gives good flow to the many details in the book. KLASSISK MUSIKKMAGASIN [Ida Habbestad]
Uncommonly successful. . . . Hastings is always specific, never resorting to vague poetics in passages of praise to describe work he likes, . . . Enrich[es] his findings by comparison with recordings of the same material from all ages[, e.g., Caruso, Pavarotti, and Alagna]. GRAMOPHONE [Mike Ashman, noted opera director]
An exciting read about a beloved artist. . . .For the neophyte, it supplies an education in vocal terminology and history, and an unerring understanding of the voice and how it functions. . . . Compelling. OPERA NEWS [Ira Siff]
By a long way the best critical discography of anyone I have encountered. . . Eloquent, jargon-free and incisive prose. Many acute remarks about conductors. . . . Illuminating [on Schubert songs]. . . . Truly an education. OPERA [Michael Tanner]