Arie Antiche - Alfredo Kraus
It is appropriate that Alfredo Kraus, the grand seigneur of the operatic stage, should turn his attention to these arias of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, for they must be among the first he ever learned; since the end of the last century, singing teachers all over the world have drawn upon this repertoire to inculcate into their pupils the technique and style of what we call ‘bel canto’, the Italian perfection of vocal art that graced a vanished age of elegance.
I get the feeling that this is something of an overlooked item in Kraus’s memorable discography. I also sense that, if it’s spoken about at all, it’s done in a rather bewildered sort of way, as if the undertaking were suspect, or – in the case of one or two extreme reactions – embarrassing.
I like Kraus’s way with Scarlatti, which has the necessary heft for Toglietemi la vita ancor (and the pathos for it too) and the trippingly pert Chi vuole innamorarsi – which surely can’t be by Scarlatti in this form? I like too the yearning nobility and charm he brings to Vengo a stringerti. Best of all I admit to a real soft spot for what he does with Le violette, which is delightfully coloured and full of niceties of dynamics and shading.