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Bob Rose
Fanfare, August 2000

"No other tenor has approached the silvery, trumpetlike quality of Bjorling, and few have equaled his effortless production.' ...The transfers are excellent. ...There are two reasons why this is recommendable. One is the superior sound, two the budget price."

Audiophile Audition, April 2000

"Culled from EMI sources, this disc celebrates the brilliant Swedish tenor Jussi Bjoerling (1911-1960), a singer whose lyric powers remain undisputed, and whose versatility embraced the more "spinto" roles of Manrico and even Lohengrin when occasion demanded. Often called the Swedish Caruso," Bjoerling's voice could resonate to high C and sustain breath, nasal and chest-tone virtually without strain, and this despite bouts of alcoholism. A limited actor, Bjoerling could manufacture drama through a superlative musical intuition, blended with a silvery, burnished voice that, by the late 1940's, had taken on a deeper hue. Of the 23 selections on the Naxos disc, several from 1936-37 capture Bjoerling just at the time his career turned really international, his having performed Radames in Aida in Vienna with Kerstin Thorborg.

"Anyone listening to this set will have his personal favorites, so it becomes academic to review every cut. 'Cielo e mar' from Ponchielli's La Gioconda will serve as a prototype of Bjoerling's highly intimate, personal style, taken as a cavatina in two sections, a short parlando introduction that just seems to evolve into a florid, pulsating showpiece of vocal leaps and changes of registration. While his Pagliacci does not forth with emotion a la Del Monaco, it has drive and pathos enough, while his 'O Lola' from Mascagni is perfection. Even in early, the vocal line is silky smooth, given the 'Recondita armonia' from Tosca, December 1936. Bjoerling generally makes a fine 'Italian' tenor, and his 1954 complete La Boheme on EMI, with De los Angeles and Beecham is to be sought with all deliberate speed. The 'Flower Song' from Bizet Carreras; perhaps only Domingo has Bjoerling's staying power, but not his sheer beauty of tone. For anyone interested in acquiring a basic compilation of an illustrious voice and personality, the Naxos is a good starting point."

Journal of the Jussi Bjoerling Society

"Journal readers will recall the article announcing the disc in the 3/99 issue of the Journal of the JBS. Now that it has arrived, we can hear for ourselves that Naxos has indeed made a valuable contribution with this issue, not only with the careful transfers, but also with the low price (suggested list price $5.95), thus perfect for giving to susceptible friends. Another indication of corporate responsibility by Naxos is that they have an excellent record of keeping their catalog intact.

...There is, again to my ears, a richness and fullness on most of the Naxos which I found very exciting... I think this is a real winner and I am delighted to own it."

David Vernier

"...this Naxos compilation is by far the finest CD transfer to date of Bjorling's best-known opera aria recordings. Not only is the voice more present and natural-sounding, but so is the orchestra, and until we can find a way to bring Bjorling back from the dead, this recording takes its place as the truest and most satisfying means to appreciate his inimitable way with an aria. The other true artist who deserves credit here is transfer engineer Mark Obert-Thorn, whose insistence on minimal messing around with the original 78s should be a lesson to others who similarly wield enormous discretionary power over such valuable, treasured legacies. Whatever Obert-Thorn did here, please let him do lots more.

Valerie Scher
The San Diego Union-Tribune

"This assortment of opera arias is sure to delight Björling's devotees as well as those who have just discovered him. Skillfully engineered by Mark Obert-Thorn to ensure worthy sound quality... Björling was blessed with greatness."

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