13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A Mixed Success,
This review is from: Kaufmann: Mozart/Schubert/Beethoven/Wagner (Audio CD)
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.
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Initial post: 11 Dec 2011 19:09:19 GMT
Lady Fancifull says:
Enjoyed your review! Agree about the Mozart - he's beautifully lyrical but his intensity and depth (which is wonderful) didn't quite take me there with Tamino. But as for the Wagner, oh gosh!
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