Jonas Kaufmann: Dolce Vita

Reviewed on Fri 09 Dec, 2016

Jonas Kaufmann remains in tune and linguistically accurate throughout. The negatives prove serious flaws: the Teatro Massimo di Palermo orchestra sounds distinctly scratchy, and Kaufmann’s singing lacks that most essential quality – style.

The booklet will have you believe that Jonas Kaufmann’s latest recording will transport you to a sun-kissed Italian beach with a feel-good factor. It’s not quite that simple. There are positives: the varied repertoire, Asher Fisch’s pacey conducting and the glossy presentation. Kaufmann remains in tune and linguistically accurate throughout. The negatives prove serious flaws: the Teatro Massimo di Palermo orchestra sounds distinctly scratchy, and Kaufmann’s singing lacks that most essential quality – style. Take Dalla’s 'Caruso', de Curtis’s 'Torna a surriento' or Modugno’s 'Volare': Pavarotti (Decca) bathes them in golden tone with ease, yet Kaufmann’s more baritone-tinged and effortful vocals leave them lingering in the shadows. Gigli (EMI) and Wunderlich (DG) imbue Leoncavallo’s 'Mattinata' with feeling that Kaufmann cannot match. A few canzone, such as Gastaldon’s 'Musica Proibita', are moderately successful under Kaufmann’s advocacy. On balance, though, that’s not enough and, given the alternatives, I would not replay this recording straight through again in a hurry.
–Evan Dickerson