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The Young Alfredo Kraus

Mozart / Rossini / Bizet
Release Date: 04/09/2013 
Label:  Preiser Records   Catalog #: 93482   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Gioachino RossiniGaetano DonizettiVincenzo BelliniGiacomo Meyerbeer,   ... 
Performer:  Alfredo Kraus
Conductor:  José Luis LloretMario CordoneEnrique Estela
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 14 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

To be cherished and listened to over and over again.

To grasp the full meaning of Alfredo Kraus’s artistry, it may be a good idea to relate a small but significant episode. Several years ago, in November 2005, as part of the research for a novel, which I was then writing, I interviewed Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez. One of the things I asked him was whether there was a singer that he looked up to as his role model. He replied without hesitation: “Alfredo Kraus. I look up to him.”! I was surprised. Somehow, I had expected him to say Luciano Pavarotti, perhaps because of the easy high notes. However, for Flórez, it was really the only logical singer to name. If one observes in detail Flórez’s
Read more vocal technique, beauty of tone and refined phrasing and then, listens to Kraus it becomes obvious why he had to be Flórez’s role model.
 
Alfredo Kraus (1927-1999) was the tenore di grazia of his generation. He sang with grace and elegance, possessed easy high notes but also made anything he sang sound truly beautiful, which is what bel canto is all about. Kraus boasted a masterly vocal technique but, perhaps most importantly, his knowledge of his own abilities and limitations never led him to overextend himself. In a perfectly managed career, he achieved an unusual degree of consistency and longevity. For example, at seventy, he was still capable of singing a high C and a high C sharp. The admirable top extension of his voice was one of his most famous assets but his refined phrasing, the warmth of his tone, his beautifully balanced legato line, as well as his undeniably elegant style, were all equally admired, particularly at a time when most tenors had neglected these artistic qualities. Naturally, he is not unique in terms of the easy, spectacular high notes - in that sense, he was probably eclipsed by the flamboyant Luciano Pavarotti - but no other tenor of his generation was capable of expressing such a degree of delicate, well-judged sentiment. His performances had a grace that would forever remain in one’s mind.
 
Kraus excelled particularly in the bel canto repertoire of the first half of the 19 th Century - Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini. This was what best suited his voice but he proved his versatility and sang many other roles from 1961/62 onwards. His Mozart, for example, was certainly one of the most beautiful I have ever heard and his celebrated portrait of the title character in Massenet’s Werther became a legend. It was not the only one. In 1958, he appeared with Maria Callas in Verdi’s La Traviata, in Portugal’s capital city. The impact of Callas and Kraus was so great that this particular production passed into the realms of history as the “Lisbon Traviata”. Then, in 1959, he sang for the first time the role of Arturo from Bellini’s I puritani. Like Werther years later, he made it his own becoming his signature.
 
Interestingly enough when he began studying music as a teenager, he had no intention of becoming a singer. Luckily for audiences then and listeners today, his family and friends encouraged him to do so. He was perhaps the only tenor that understood the true meaning of bel canto in the fifties and sixties. So, this CD featuring many arias and songs from the peak of Kraus’s powers (1958-1962) is very welcome indeed.
 
The Young Alfredo Kraus, as this recording is adequately named, begins with a lovely rendition of Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. This is followed by the equally engaging performance of Se il mio nome from Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia. Then we have a succession of arias from some of Donizetti’s most celebrated operas: L’elisir d’amore, Lucia di Lammermoor, La favorita and Don Pasquale; each delivered with impeccable vocal technique, elegant phrasing and easy high notes. This is followed by Bellini’s A te, o cara from I puritani - my favourite in this collection. This requires delicate sentiment, elegance, easy high notes and very elegant phrasing. Kraus’s rendition is very near perfection! It is beautiful, moving and warm. I was close to tears by the time he had finished.
 
After these first nine tracks of almost unsurpassable beauty we are treated to a slightly more diverse repertoire: from Meyerbeer to Gounod, Verdi, Bizet and even Cilea. Each aria is sung with the same vocal quality that he demonstrated in Mozart and the bel canto pieces. Of the second half of the programme, I particularly enjoyed Mi par d’udir ancora from Bizet’s Les pêcheurs de perles (here sung in Italian) and a selection of arias from Rigoletto, including the inevitable La donna è mobile, which is extremely well sung. We end with three well known songs from Leoncavallo, Ponce and Serrano; all charmingly delivered.
 
The recorded sound of The Young Alfredo Kraus is of excellent quality throughout, clear and properly cleaned of all the static. Tonzauber, in Vienna, did an exemplary job. The booklet contains some interesting notes about Kraus, his life and career, both in German and English. There are no texts of the sung pieces.
 
I enjoyed this CD immensely. The young Alfredo Kraus should please anybody who loves exceptionally good, gorgeous singing. If you have never heard Alfredo Kraus sing, you are missing something and this recording is just perfect. If you have, then, it really does not matter. This is still a wonderful addition to any collection, to be cherished and listened to over and over again.
 
-- Margarida Mota-Bull, MusicWeb Internatioal
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Works on This Recording

1.
Il Barbiere di Sivglia: Se il mio nome by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Alfredo Kraus ()
Conductor:  José Luis Lloret
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1816; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1958 
Length: 3 Minutes 16 Secs. 
2.
L'Elisir d'Amore: Una furtiva lagrima by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Alfredo Kraus ()
Conductor:  José Luis Lloret
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1832; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1958 
Length: 4 Minutes 31 Secs. 
3.
Lucia di Lammermoor: Tu che a Dio by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Alfredo Kraus ()
Conductor:  Mario Cordone
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1962 
Venue:  Orquesta Sinfonica de Madrid 
Length: 5 Minutes 21 Secs. 
4.
La Favorita: Una vergine, un'angiol di Dio by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Alfredo Kraus ()
Conductor:  José Luis Lloret
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1958 
Length: 2 Minutes 27 Secs. 
5.
La Favorita: Spirto gentil by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Alfredo Kraus ()
Conductor:  José Luis Lloret
Written: 1843 
Date of Recording: 1958 
Length: 3 Minutes 45 Secs. 
6.
Don Pasquale: Com' è gentil by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Alfredo Kraus ()
Conductor:  José Luis Lloret
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1843; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1958 
Length: 2 Minutes 15 Secs. 
7.
Don Pasquale: Cercherò lontana terra by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Alfredo Kraus ()
Conductor:  José Luis Lloret
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1843; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1958 
Length: 2 Minutes 26 Secs. 
8.
I puritani: A te, o cara, amor talora by Vincenzo Bellini
Performer:  Alfredo Kraus ()
Conductor:  José Luis Lloret
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1958 
Length: 3 Minutes 17 Secs. 
9.
Gli Ugonotti: O qual soave vision... Bianca al par by Giacomo Meyerbeer
Performer:  Alfredo Kraus ()
Conductor:  José Luis Lloret
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1816 
Date of Recording: 1958 
Length: 3 Minutes 40 Secs. 
10.
L'Africana: Mi batte il cor... O paradiso by Giacomo Meyerbeer
Performer:  Alfredo Kraus ()
Conductor:  José Luis Lloret
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1864 
Date of Recording: 1958 
Length: 3 Minutes 16 Secs. 
11.
Faust: Qual turbamento... Salve, dimora by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Alfredo Kraus ()
Conductor:  Mario Cordone
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1859; France 
Length: 6 Minutes 25 Secs. 
12.
Rigoletto: Questa o quella by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Alfredo Kraus ()
Conductor:  Mario Cordone
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1851; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1962 
Length: 2 Minutes 5 Secs. 
13.
Rigoletto: Ella mi fù rapita... Parmi veder by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Alfredo Kraus ()
Conductor:  Mario Cordone
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1851; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1962 
Length: 5 Minutes 45 Secs. 
14.
Rigoletto: La donna è mobile by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Alfredo Kraus ()
Conductor:  José Luis Lloret
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1851; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1958 
Length: 2 Minutes 28 Secs. 
15.
Les pêcheurs de perles: Mi par d'udir ancor by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Alfredo Kraus ()
Conductor:  José Luis Lloret
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863; France 
Date of Recording: 1958 
Length: 4 Minutes 36 Secs. 
16.
L'Arlesiana: E la solita storia...Anch'io vorrei "Lamento" by Francesco Cilèa
Performer:  Alfredo Kraus ()
Conductor:  Mario Cordone
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1897/1937; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1962 
Length: 4 Minutes 55 Secs. 
17.
Mattinata by Ruggero Leoncavallo
Performer:  Alfredo Kraus ()
Conductor:  Enrique Estela
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1958 
Length: 2 Minutes 15 Secs. 
18.
Estrellita by Manuel Ponce
Performer:  Alfredo Kraus ()
Conductor:  José Luis Lloret
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1912; Mexico 
Date of Recording: 1958 
Length: 4 Minutes 9 Secs. 
19.
El Trust de los Tenorios: Te quiero, morena by Simeon José Serrano
Performer:  Alfredo Kraus ()
Conductor:  José Luis Lloret
Period: Modern 
Written: 1910 
Date of Recording: 1958 
Length: 2 Minutes 28 Secs. 
20.
Die Zauberflöte, K 620: Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Alfredo Kraus ()
Conductor:  Mario Cordone
Period: Classical 
Written: 1791; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1962 
Venue:  Orquesta Sinfonica de Madrid 
Length: 4 Minutes 35 Secs. 

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