Peter Dvorsky - Famous Italian Canzonettas
This is home ground to Italian tenors‚ and others are generally well advised to keep clear. The Slovakian Dvorsk´y has long been associated with Italian opera and has sung a great deal in Italy itself; even so it is somewhat surprising to find him giving a programme of this kind‚ and‚ probably‚ to find him doing it so well. He puts heart and soul into the singing and knows (which is more than some of the natives do) that between the issimos of piano and forte are many graduations‚ and that these popular songs‚ like the Lieder‚ mélodies and other artsongs from whose company they are commonly excluded‚ benefit from use of all the degrees. A foreigner cannot undertake to judge the authenticity of pronunciation‚ but his Italian certainly sounds good to me‚ so that the songs which records have made familiar from years ago with the voices of Caruso‚ Gigli and Schipa do not come out ‘wrong’ as they so often do in these circumstances.
What all too frequently does ‘come out wrong’ in this recital is the orchestral arrangement. Seven arrangers are named‚ and none can resist the temptation to be clever. These songs do not want arranging: their original accompaniments (and especially their harmonies) may be limited‚ but they are what is right for them‚ and what is added brings an alien sophistication. Even Bixio‚ with his Italianised 1930s Hollywood touch‚ deserves to be let alone‚ with his saxophones and heavenly chorus (and what‚ incidentally‚ has happened to them?). Among the seven‚ worst (or‚ if you like‚ most determinedly ingenious) is Ji·i Hudec‚ whose offences against Lolita are of a kind Nabokov never envisaged.
The singing has its limitations too – partly those that come with age – the recordings were made in the month of Dvorsk´y’s 50th birthday. These are songs of youth (one reason why Di Stefano’s early records can be so thrilling). Still‚ there is much to praise. Hear Santa Lucia lontana‚ for instance‚ and Non t’amo più. For one not born within sight of Mt Vesuvius (even Italians might have to admit): not bad.