Jussi Björling is one of those diamonds in the rough side of an old coffin, which one thinks perhaps has been inconsequently overrated, like many others artists, by time and memory. But, as one lets this tenor's voice crack one's concrete mood, the now only listener will notice it's harder to swallow than before. There is something sordid in Björling (perhaps a reflection of his yet to come alcoholic requiem), but there is something poetic in all that is sordid.
Crowned at the Metropolitan Opera in New York as the “Swedish Caruso”, the Swedish tenor resembles somehow the stereotyped story of the musical genius. Debut at the age of four, with the Björling Quartet; professional debut at the Royal Swedish Opera at 19; and concert debut in Carnegie Hall at 25.
Björling's legacy extends itself over a vast 30 CD anthology, including complete operas, recitals, compilations and duets with sopranos like Renata Tebaldi, Elisabeth Söderström or Maria Callas (who acclaimed him for his interpretation of “Il Trovatore”).
During 30 years a versatile baritone-lowering and countertenor-reaching voice has not interpreted but recomposed the greatest opera compositions. A whole new meaning is built by, what seems to be the combination of Enrico Caruso's grasping voice in “Fenesta Ca Lucive” and the overwhelming energy of Anton Dermota's “Glück das mir Verblieb”.
A tessitura that shapes all crests with unexpected beauty. One feels stupidly impotent when trying to listen to “Ack Värmeland du Sköna” or "Tonerna" as background music. Tongues and feet stop moving, not because they want to, but because they have to. And that's the flaming power in Björling's interpretation: the instant evoking on the dark inner-side of one's eyelids; the sublime and absolutely optical replica of an unknown world.
After trying clumsily to grasp the formula which will lead us back to this soul-bedded Swedish fantasy, one has no choice but to play the song again. But this time with the window wide open, so all neighbours can enjoy this sempre in crescendo secret. A secret which makes one remember even what didn't happen; that although remastered, remains the same. A secret which doesn't need to be told or revealed; that goes beyond 1960. A secret with which one is satisfied only by being aware of it. A secret called Jussi Björling.