37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kaufmann back on home territory - and in tremendous form
I have heard Jonas Kaufmann live (and been very impressed) but not yet in any Wagner. On the evidence of this disc, he is more than ready, as long as he has the vocal stamina, to take the world by storm in the big Wagnerian roles, culminating, I hope, one day - but not too soon - in Tristan. The real gems here are the two Lohengrin and two Parsifal arias which bookend the...
Published on 2 Oct 2009 by Ralph Moore
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lovely voice
but this is a bit too highbrow for me. I much prefer his previous collection, Verisimo - absolutely fabulous - I have it in the car and listen over and over again.
Published 22 months ago by Mrs K E Rowbottom
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kaufmann back on home territory - and in tremendous form,
I have heard Jonas Kaufmann live (and been very impressed) but not yet in any Wagner. On the evidence of this disc, he is more than ready, as long as he has the vocal stamina, to take the world by storm in the big Wagnerian roles, culminating, I hope, one day - but not too soon - in Tristan. The real gems here are the two Lohengrin and two Parsifal arias which bookend the recital. Kaufmann is powerful, tender, touching and stirring by turns and the voice can do exactly what he wants it to: the pianissimo mezza-voce opening to "Mein Lieber Schwan!" is stunning; then he opens up into "O Elsa! Nur ein Jahr an deine Seite!" in a wholly convincing way: love and desperation perfectly combined in a melting, but virile, mix. Half way through the last "Parsifal" aria, it came to me; say "Jon Vickers" while you are listening to Kaufmann there and you come closest to the voice his most resembles: the husky, baritonal quality with a strange beauty of its own but which does not always quite suit the Romantic repertoire he can also undertake - hence the mixed reactions to his Pinkerton and the recital album "Romantic Arias". His voice is much more in the tradition of Vickers, Ramon Vinay and Ludwig Suthaus; it is quite absurd of one German reviewer to waffle on about how Kaufmann "carries on the great tradition of German tenors such as Fritz Wunderlich"; he sounds absolutely nothing like Wunderlich, much as I love both. Nor is he anything like the honeyed, sensuous tones of Domingo or the sunlit, thrilling sound of Pavarotti: this is not an Italianate voice but a real Heldentenor in the making, one to succeed Ben Heppner. Having got Vickers' voice in mind, I went back to the magnificent "Winterstürme" and confirmed that at times the two voices are virtually indistinguishable - but his Siegmund is so compelling that the truncation of the aria with a concert ending is a disappointment: you want to hear Sieglinde come swooping in!
The wonder of this voice is that it can still sing Tamino so winningly and delicately; it shows that Kaufmann really is looking after his instrument. He has mostly abandoned the little, glottal, "gulping" tic that irritated me in the "Madama Butterfly" and seems capable of more nuance than ever. It is good to hear the extended excerpt from "Die Zauberflöte" where Kaufmann's sensitive singing is complemented by a nice Speaker from Michael Volle and the Regio di Parma chorus. It's almost as if Kaufmann is making a point by including so much Mozart in a disc also distinguished by its Wagner performances; he has retained the flexibility of his youthful voice and hence still has Tamino very much in his repertoire.
The slightly recherché items here are the two Schubert arias from "Fierrebras" and Alfonso und Estrella". They are not the greatest music Schubert ever wrote by far, but it's good to hear something outside the normal, hackneyed repertoire and Kaufmann sings them as well as he sings everything in this lovely recital. The second aria is particularly charming; typical of the composer's strophic manner with variations.
Finally, the great "Fidelio" aria is given full weight and yet again brings to mind Vickers at his best - yet not even Vickers could start the G on "Gott" in the falsetto and swell the note into full voice as seamlessly as Kaufmann manages to do here. It is such touches of individual artistry that mark out Kaufmann as no Vickers clone - but goodness knows there is room for two such artists within fifty years.
The accompaniments by Abbado and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra are as fine as you would expect; the orchestra discreetly adopts vibrato-less HIPster practice for the Mozart and the Beethoven, but soups it up for the Wagner and makes a beautiful, rich, sonorous sound. Abbado's phrasing and tempi are flawless, of course. The horns in the "Fidelio" aria are especially grand.
This is the best recital disc I have heard for a long time and I am so glad to see Kaufmann returning to the territory where he really rules rather than succumbing to commercial pressures to do more Verdi and Puccini. He can be great in both and I am very much looking forward to hearing Kaufmann's Don Carlo at Covent Garden next week - but it is in the core German territory where his voice really belongs and excels.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A not inconsiderable achievement.,
May be to most opera goers globally Jonas Kaufmann is a relatively new name. However, research shows this tenor has been around for almost two decades, with solid vocal credentials to his credit by singing in mostly European houses.
Some of the operatic excerpts in this new album are from operas that Kaufmann has sung on stage and recorded over the years: Fierrabras, Fidelio, Die Zauberflote, Parsifal, though I don't think he has performed Die Walkure yet.
I am not sure if he is a heldentenor in the specie of Melchior, but his similarity with Vickers has been noted by many. I think one major difference between Kaufmann and Vickers is that Kaufmann is able to tackle roles for smaller voices that Vickers was not adept.
If Kaufmann is able to keep his performances mostly in Europe and smaller houses, there is an overwhelming chance that he would become the next standard bearer of German opera.
One very good thing about Kaufmann's singing is that he is always very affecting, no matter in Mozart, Schubert, Wagner, Beethoven or what not.
Some have queried his interpretation in Dies Bildnis as being 'over'. To me, Kaufmann's version is 'just fine', more affecting and human than the vocally 100% performance of Fritz Wunderlich more than half a century ago. It is exactly this aspect of Kaufmann's singing that will set him apart from other big names in German or other repertoire.
I fully agree that this album is among the finest vocal album to come out this past decade.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kaufmann wins again,
Kaufmann continues his runaway domination of the German opera scene. His voice is developing into a splendid Heldentenor - his Wagner is most impressive and thrilling. This, surely is his new direction and I am in no doubt that he will succeed in the bigget roles in a few years time. What a joy to anticipate.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime - Sehnsucht (longing) indeed!,
Firstly, I will confess that I bought the set with a DVD as an extra, but I really do think it wasn't worth the additional £3 - especially as, except for the threat of prosecution if illegally played (which is irritatingly the only thing in English), everything else is in German and the interview with Jonas has no subtitles. So, unless your German is significantly better than mine, I would advise you to buy this version.
This is a very well constructed disc, living up to its name 'Sehnsucht' (longing), perfectly. It opens with scenes from Lohengrin and Zie Zauberflote - then moves on to a couple of Schubert songs which I had never heard. Jonas' interpretation of these two pieces is wonderfully poignant, leading me to wonder why I hadn't heard them before.
With Beethoven following and a perfect culmination of the Ring and Parsifal (giving us a taster of what is to come next season at the Met); this is a well balanced and gorgeous collection.
I bought this as a surprise for my wife on our Wedding Anniversary (as we are both head-over-heels in love with Kaufmann's voice) and a day hasn't gone by when we haven't played it.
Kaufmann's interpretation and diction are beyond compare and I can't praise this disk enough. In fact, my advice is that if you don't already own them, invest in his Strauss Lieder (HMC 9018779) and Schubert: Die Schone Mullerin (Decca: 478 1528) too. I doubt if any of these disks will remain unplayed in your colection for very long.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars l new reliable tenor,
When I listened, many years ago, the first Vickers' RCA mono recital I got extremely impressed; not so my friends. Time gave me the reason with generosity. I will be very compact. I feel that this young German tenor is "the" tenor of the moment together with Juan Diego Florez, who's a tenore di grazzia. I am speaking straightly of seriuosness. I feel also that Kaufmann has the same seriousness, vocal technique and, perhaps, colour of Jon Vickers with the paramount advantage that he is German and has foreign laguanges facility. We coud say that Kaufmann is a very clever man, more than Vickers, and that he's a bit less "rocky" than Vickers. But throat natural notes and high notes, are very similar. Also Kaufmann is a real modern artist, if a little inclined to sentimental performance (that I don¡'t like), he never reach the exagerate level of Vickers, for example, at the end of studio Tristan or as Samson. Buy his records without hessitation.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Opera,
Jonas Kaufmann is,as far as I am concerned, the best tenor singing at present - the voice is remarkable, soft,clear, supple, Kaufmann acts with his voice.Thoroughly enjoyable
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Mixed Success,
There is a part of Germany just north of Nuremberg called the Franconian Switzerland, where rushing rivers plunge through steep, thickly wooded valleys, out of which rocky outcrops offer poets, lovers and suicides the ideal spot to brood in a melancholy fashion on the woes of the world. I love the place (not only for its landscape, I should add: in this part of the world there is the greatest concentration of breweries per head of population anywhere in Europe, and the beer is excellent), and have often felt my breast swelling with longing to dash off a few lines of anguished verse, or perhaps an opera aria or two as soon as I get home. I must admit never to have made good on this noble intention, but thankfully we're not short on deep-hearted Germans who have done the job before us, and for terribly handsome chaps with golden voices to express all that Sehnsucht in song.
One such is Jonas Kaufmann, and the cover image of this thoroughly enjoyable CD places him almost literally in the landscape of romantic Germany, in slightly odd remakes of paintings by Caspar David Friedrich, where Kaufmann is now the lonely fellow alone above the mist. I must admit to finding the effect very funny, although I'm sure that's not the effect the producers wished to achieve, but thankfully one needn't be distracted too long, as the music is the real star here.
In many ways, this is a very ambitious programme, beginning with Mozart, then, via Schubert and Beethoven, making its way to five meaty arias by Wagner which frame the earlier pieces. These are all real hits, especially the wonderful "In fernem Land" from Lohengrin. The Beethoven, too, is very good, and Kaufmann's passionate, full-throated delivery is absolutely ideal for Florestan. The Schubert arias I must confess not to knowing very well, but he does make a good case for them being heard more often, and they make for a fascinating bridge between Mozart and Beethoven. The two Mozart arias are the weak point on the disc, although simply because, to my ears, Kaufmann is just a bit too muscular to be a happy Tamino. He possesses a stunning technique, a fabuluously warm baritone range and thrilling high notes, but for "Dies Bildnis" from "The Magic Flute" he sounds like he's working too hard at points, and some of his mezza voce work isn't that happy.
Is this a five star disc? No: the Mozart arias prevent that accolade, but I will strongly recommend it to lovers of opera and country rambles alike.
5.0 out of 5 stars is there a better recital by anyone of anything?,
First, all credit to Claudio Abbado, who in these relatively short excerpts from operas establishes the particular sound world of each and (with excellent help from the sound engineers) renders it beautifully and in an ideal relation to the voice. If one doesn't believe that Abbado is one of the great conductors, this recording should settle the matter. And in Jonas Kaufmann he has the perfect soloist, for Kaufmann not only sings beautifully and securely, with power and grace, but he too is alive to the particular drama and texture of each piece of music he sings. There is not a routine moment anywhere on this disc. To get a sense of Kaufmann's responsiveness, sample the two Schubert items, each calling for a different set of skills: Kaufmann presents them both perfectly, and the excerpt from "Fierrabras" is not at all easy to make sound as credible and beautiful as it does here. My favorite track might be the long scene from the "Magic Flute," starting with "Wie stark ist nicht dein Zauberton" through the dialogue with the Speaker. First, it's thrilling to hear a voice of this size and quality sing Tamino's music, and then the dialogue with the Speaker is dramatically alive. Michael Volle is an engaged and very human Speaker, and he sings both beautifully and with great dramatic sense. I don't think I've heard the scene done better on record. The scene from "Fidelio" is thrilling too, with Abbado making the lead-in to the aria totally gripping and even frightening, and Kaufmann sounding (as he should) totally crazed by the end. Siegmund's Spring Song ("Wintersturme") is ardently done, and in the "Parsifal" extracts, both Kaufmann and Abbado show their mettle -- just listen to voice and orchestra after Kundry's lines in the first "Parsifal" track. Any disappointments? Not really -- but the "Lohengrin" items perhaps suffer a bit from Kaufmann's overworking the dynamic contrasts -- I prefer more direct singing-out (like Siegfried Jerusalem's) in "In fernem Land." But in Abbado's few bars bars of introduction, has it ever been clearer, before Lohengrin even opens his mouth, that we're dealing with a creature from another world? When Kaufmann does cut loose -- in "O Elsa, nur ein Jahr" -- it's simply thrilling. In short, here's a disc you have to hear.
5.0 out of 5 stars Jonas Kaufmann, the No. 1 tenor today,
Jonas Kaufmann's voice is unsurpassed since Jussi Björling - who died some 50 years ago. I heard him live in Stockholm about a year ago and cannot wait for recordings of the remaining great Wagner roles, e.g. Siegfried and Tristan.
3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthy successor to Bjorling,
He possesses a very fine lyric tenor voice, and it is a faultless sound production. It is a great pity that he has decided to restrict his repertoire to German composers/language only.
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