A fabulous start for Jonas Kaufmann in his association with Sony, not only does it include tracks of his current roles but also ones from his past and reputedly ones he is planning to sing in the near future.
Starting with track one from his past repertoire - "La donna è mobile" which is sung with such power, control and beauty and towards the end we have the Otello which is one of his future roles and gives a glimpse of the extraordinary performances to come, this is the role meant for him, his use of drama and dark undertones as he fills the speakers with an interpretation of opera 'tragedy' that is beyond anyone else singing today (even Domingo IMHO)
If you need any further proof of why Kaufmann is so loved by his fans then just listen to the dynamic range and control of his voice when singing `Celeste Aida', something most will be familiar with, but just listen to the last note....wow!
We have had some superb releases this year from Kaufmann, Calleja and some not so good, Verdi - Netrebko (Anna what were you thinking) this recording reinforces Jonas Kaufmann's position as probably the greatest Tenor of his generation and one who has all the possibility of exceeding the stratospheric heights reached by Placido Domingo. We are very lucky that Joseph Calleja is just a few years behind and nipping at his heels.
Amazon Cloud/Mp3 vs CD
If you are thinking of buying this album on MP3 only then I would reconsider. By buying the CD you get a free MP3 version on your cloud player which you can download. However the difference is this, the Cloud player Mp3 version is 320kbs but the CD version is 1440kbs and of much higher quality. This is especially true when comparing playback from a HiFi via headphones. Buy the CD then rip it yourself at a higher bit rate than amazon provide.
on 18 September 2013
I almost didn't buy this album. I haven't been a Kaufmann fan in the past, having been disappointed by his Pinkerton with Angela Gheorgiu, but I decided to take a chance, and I'm so glad I did.
His voice is the most virile tenor since Franco Corelli, capable of blazing top notes, yet with the most affecting piannissimi. He shows great respect for the wishes of his composer, giving us the last note of `Celeste Aida' exactly as Verdi stipulated, and including the drop of an octave and a half in `Di' tu se fedele' from Un ballo in maschera, which many tenors, including Pavarotti, reduce to half an octave.
The word which comes foremost to my mind for this album is `thoughtful'. Certainly many of the arias are the old `war-horses' of countless tenor albums, and yet even the most well-known, like `La donna è mobile' and `Ah! si, ben mio coll'essere' are given fresh and engaging renderings. Kaufmann has stopped to think not only what was in Verdi's mind but also what might have been in the mind of the character he is portraying. In other words, these are truly `dramatic' performances.
For me, some of the most wonderful parts of this album are those where Kaufmann sings quietly, giving every nuance to Verdi's delicious melodies, yet able at any moment to burst into vocal brilliance. The arias from La forza del destino and Luisa Miller display this beautifully. But the absolute acme of his performance comes with Otello. These two arias from the last act of the opera, show us Otello in steely, righteous rage, preparing to take his wife's life for her supposed infidelity and then, having strangled her, discovering her innocence. Nowhere does Kaufmann come closer to perfection than in conveying the real tragedy at the heart of this opera, with a voice and an artistry totally in tune with the composer. There were tears in my eyes as he finished.
I don't understand what is meant by `a bonus track'. Macduff's recitative and aria from Macbeth, lamenting the destruction of his family, are beautifully sung with all the qualities that I have delineated above, but they should really have been included earlier in the album. Moving though the performance is, the return to earlier Verdi breaks the spell of the magical and simultaneously heart-rending music of the mature Verdi with his greatest tenor role. This is where the album should have ended. Buy it and you will never regret it; if, by any chance, like me, you should be unable to get to a concert hall or opera house, you will think, for more than an hour, that you have attained heaven on earth.
This sequence gives a marvellous experience of Verdi's music, with Kaufmann's magnificent timbre unfailingly hitting the right note whether in quiet or loud passages. The ripe emotional utterance tends to be the norm with this composer, but the tenderness is equally apparent in, say, an aria from Luisa Miller or La Forza del destino, where he dovetails with a clarinet touchingly. The brass are to the fore in Aida, sounding thrillingly full as Verdi would have wanted in this state-of-the-art recording. He is also very well set against a solo baritone in Don Carlo, while my personal favourite is probably from Simon Boccanegra because it is musically at such a pitch of excitement. The Parma Opera orchestra is very vivid but without shrillness under the sensitive direction of Pier Giorgio Morandi, with chorus well brought into focus on occasion, but it is really the sound of Kaufmann that makes Verdi seem so fantastically noble and alive in all these numbers. He really is a perfect fit with the idiom, with a range of colour and emotion that is unusually wide. He makes you eager to hear ever more phrases; the sound is beautiful like the fur of the wolf, perhaps, its slight roughness adding that nth degree of allure. Kaufmann himself writes a note on each aria with both musical and personal observations, complemented by an essay on Verdi tenors, texts and translations and seven photos of Kaufmann in a presentation that folds over three times.
on 11 October 2013
Well, here's a voice, and while I agree with Ralph Moore on Amazon.com that it perhaps isn't ideal for some of the music here, the quality of the voice itself, as well as Kaufmann's singing, musicianship, and dramatic instincts make this something to hear. I hope someone records him soon in "Otello," "Norma" and "Turandot" -- in between his Wagner engagements, that is. The middle and lower voice have a very special richness and beauty, and the top is totally secure, even if not quite Italianate in its vowel quality. The breath control and dynamic control are astonishing (the latter sometimes overdone), and the words are savored, even if the phrasing sometimes lacks an ideal flow. Nothing here is careless -- everything is thought out and, on the whole well-executed. Weak points for me are the "Boccanegra" scene (well sung, but doesn't "build") and the "Masnadieri" scene (not very interesting, with Chorus too far back). Very fine are the "Celeste Aida" and the "Otello" items, and absolutely outstanding is the "Trovatore" scene -- a slow but beautifully-phrased "Ah si, ben mio" and a thrilling "Di quella pira." The orchestral support is efficient -- not nearly in the Abbado class, as on Kaufmann's German recital -- and the voice is forwardly placed but not too much so. Make no mistake, though -- this is voice to savor.
on 7 October 2013
If Kaufman's Wagner disc was one of the finest recital discs of the stereo era, the Verdi equivalent is not so consistently successful. Spanning the composer's output is difficult for any tenor. I agree with the comments that other singers have (Bergonzi) and in the case of Calleja still do have more idiomatic timbres for the lyric roles. But Kaufman's great sensitivity and musicianship get him through even the extracts from Rigoletto and Luisa Miller. His darkening voice comes into its own in the more heroic repertory, and we can look forward to his first Don Alvaros and eventually Otellos - Kaufman in the latter role could prove as good as any in the last 50 years. For someone who has recently performed Il Trovatore, I was bemused by his observations on the part of Radames which better suits his voice really - his diminuendo-morrendo at the end of Celeste Aida is breathtaking and at least he doesn't need to adjust the pitch. Also on this evidence I am not sure the transfer to Sony has been an artistic triumph. This important recital deserved a better conductor - although the Parma Orchestra play well enough. The Sony engineers sound rather stuck in the studio so I missed the rich atmospheric Decca sound of Kaufman's previous discs.
on 9 September 2014
I have most of Jonas Kaufmann's CDs and love them all, though I think my favourite is still the 'Romantic Arias'. I re-ordered this CD, having already bought it when it first appeared, because I had inadvertently left the disc in a friend's player (as it turned out later !) and just couldn't live without it ! That gives you an idea of how much I appreciate Jonas - his voice has a quality rare in tenors, an incomparable ability to transmit emotion that reaches the depths of the human psyche. Not only that but an intelligence par excellence along with a stage presence that totally engages his audience. This selection of arias documents Jonas' talents at this stage in his career but is also an outstanding tribute to the composer's genius to mark the 200th anniversary of his birth.
on 11 October 2013
i am a singer and rate \jonas Kaufmann as one of the greatest tenors ever. He has the lower quality of a baritone still keeping the high range of a tenor. I have never heard this quality before in a tenor, he is quite different from the other great tenors of his generation
on 19 October 2013
After watching Jonas Kaufman in Parsifal which ran for many hours I am one of his biggest fans. I have come to Opera late in life and I am swept away by Verdi's music. The album starts with music from Rigoletto which is my favourite Verdi opera because it is so tragic....the idea that a loving father could be responsible (by mistake) for the death of his much adored daughter then continues with other amazing arias from Aida, Don Carlo and Otello. Highly recommended.
on 4 January 2014
Kaufmann's versatility is really only now being truly seen. His Verdian delivery is wonderful, and the timbre of the voice embraces the music with a depth of colour and understanding that is rare. And, at last, we have a new Otello-in-the-making; this is the first time since the heyday of Domingo that the hairs on the back of my neck have risen to this music. Don't let them rush you into it, Kaufmann, take your time, because my instinct tells me that however long you need it will be well worth waiting for.
on 28 September 2013
The Kaufmann voice remains rather baritonal in colour. It is a heavy instrument with not particularly attractive high notes or mezza voce. Apparently as Jonas Kaufmann himself has said, he did try to lighten his sound at the beginning of his carreer which resulted to a complete voice loss in a matter of few months (!). I don't know whether this is due to the particularity of his instrument or the absence of a suitable tecnique. However, despite the weaknesses of this instrument and the absence of an Italianate sound, I must say that this guy has both the musicianship and (most important) the personality to take on Verdi's big roles. But he has to keep off the bel canto repertoire (for ex Rigoletto) and concentrate on later Verdi (for ex Otello). I am sure this is the prologue of lovely recordings to come. Let us hope that Sony will turn out more clever than Decca and that Jonas will find a suitable soprano to sing with (enough of Gheorghiu please, why not Netrebko or Harteros?).