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4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 12 February 2013
Confronted by truly great art words fail me. Magnificent singing and a very good orchestra. It is so wonderful to hear Wagner's music actually sung instead of only declaimed or at worst shouted and barked. Listening to this CD is a moving experience.
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on 23 February 2013
You can buy any operatic recital disc of the last 60 years and not find a better example for any voice in any repertory. Kaufmann sings Wagner like Bergonzi sings verdi or Callas and Scotto sing bel canto. Interpretatively he is seminal and vocally glorious. The Walkure and Siegfried excerpts are extraordinary. He sings this music like Christa Ludvig sang Mahler. Its a combination of a great operatic performance nuanced with the sensitivity of a great lieder singer. If anyone ever thought that you couldn't make a personal emotional connection with Wagner's heroic tenor roles, just listen to Kaufmann. It's inspiring, it's moving, the Siegfried is actually funny when it should be and what a voice and what a musician; dark baritonal timbre which expands and rings out reminiscent of Mario Del Monaco then the finely spun head voice of a young Di Stefano and german diction that as Hugh Canning says, 'you could take dictation from'. This is seamless integration of vocals, musical nuance, characterisation and theatre between singer and Wagner's orchestral scoring. Forget the all-too typical battle between singer and orchestra in this music - rather we have a happy symbiosis. The pre-2nd world war tradition (probably authentic to the 19th century) of singing this music with bel canto technique combined with helden-tenor heft is alive and well with JW. Except you get the distinct impression that he could sing this music for 20 years and not dry out the voice, or limit his ability to phrase italian music.

Being picky, my only slight beef on this is the ordering of the pieces. Chronological order would have been preferable for the operatic excerpts as Kaufmann and Runnicles bring out the progression in the composition and vocal writing between Rienzi and Siegfried so clearly, that everything after the Ring excerpts sound a little anti-climatical. Those with the technology to re-order the tracking take note. Runnuicles and the Deutsche Oper are provide fantastic partners and the modern Decca sound is glorious.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 February 2013
I could easily find this CD to be more of an irritation than anything else-yet another collection of excerpts from the finest tenor suited to Wagner in a generation, with until today no complete recording of any of the operas (I am excluding Blu-ray performances!). I`m not a fan of excerpts discs at the best of times, but with Kaufmann even the "well it's better than nothing" syndrome was beginning to wear thin. Fortunately all this is counteracted not only by my having received the new complete Gergiev Walkure to soften the blow, but this disc DOES finally contain a complete work, albeit not one intended for a tenor.
The excerpts from the operas are superb-we get the unexpurgated "In Fernem Land" from Lohengrin, a superb Rome Narration, excerpts from Rienzi and Meistersinger and snippets from Walkure and a tantalising Siegfried murmuring superbly in the forest (sorry!), all sung with the dark burnished tone and firm legato we have come to expect. As an aside, what a nonsense this makes of trying to build up Klaus Florian Vogt as a Heldentenor-I actually find his thin and feeble voiced attempts to be pathetic in comparison to Kaufmann.
The orchestra is full and rich-the former "German State Opera Berlin" Orchestra has a distinguished recording past with Wagner and beyond, with outstanding recordings under Konwitschny, Jochum, Maazel, Sinopoli and Thielemann to name but a few, and here is in magnificent form under another under employed great Wagner conductor in Scotland's own Donald Runnicles-would that the 2nd and 3rd rate recordings made by Pentatone under Janowski had used THIS orchestra and conductor as this very change would surely elevate them to first class!
The absolute GOLD of this recording is the Wesendonck Lieder performed for the first time to my hearing by a tenor. Wagner marked the score "For the female voice" but I have no doubt he would have applauded this performance.
I am open to hearing songs more normally associated with the female voice sung by a tenor-I treasure a recording of Jerusalem and Masur in Strauss Lieder, and Melchior in Schumann, but this is something else.
The smoky tones of his baritonal tenor are ideally suited to each song, with tenderness in Der Engel, you can almost feel the sultry heat in Im Triebhaus, Schmerzen is filled with tortured anguish and Traume has an erotic passion and sensuous line which bodes so well for any future assumption of Tristan-we can but hope!
It's a masterclass in great singing and artistry, with Runnicles and the orchestra caught in rich, radiant form and perfectly balanced-so not an irritation at all, then!!!!
This is by far the finest recording Kaufmann has made and it is destined to be a classic of the genre. A "must hear" for lovers of Wagner-and great music making. Unlimited Stars. Stewart Crowe
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on 14 February 2013
I have copies of almost all of Wagner operas with performances dating back to the early 1950s. I have seen most of them performed in various venues but, having just viewed amd reviewed a recent Tannhauser dvd with great disappointment it was more than a delight to hear Kauffmann's magnificent performances of an excellent and varied selection of items from Wagner's works. In fact, after I had listened to the first few excerpts I was near to tears with emotion. Wagner makes heavy demands on his tenors and to be successful the singer must have more than a powerful and well focused voice but must be capable of conveying the sense of the action in the music plus the softer and more lyrical episodes must be just as fine as the more dramatic declamations.
I have enjoyed many fine heldentenors and Domingo as well over the years but never one who seems to me to have everything! I suspect he can only improve and I look forward in the hope that he gets round to giving us a chance to hear him in complete versions of Tristan, Parsifal and Meistersinger.
This must be the best £9 I have spent in a long time!
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on 28 February 2013
A wonderful performance from Mr Kaufmann and Maestro Runnicles, and a huge pleasure to hear The Wesendonck lieder sung by a man rather than the usual female performer. Certainly worth five stars.
BUT, I wish I had bought the CD rather than the download. The booklet in pdf is unpleasent to read, even when enlarged to fill my computer screen the print is small and thin. My biggest criticism is for the way the recording is divided into FOUR parts when imported into iTunes to add to my ipod. In Fernem Land is a track on its own. If downloads have to have certain data attached to them, why is it so often WRONG and why is it so difficult to correct. The track data for this disc is a joke, what is Frisco Mabel Joy Revisited because that is also a track on its own. The Wesendonck Lieder tracks are titled L.I.E. all five of them, and their little album is titled N'Dambi Pink Elephant.
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on 21 June 2013
I am a Wagner enthusiast so this CD was a top priority ever since it came out. I already had Kaufmann's Verismo recital and was therefore already captivated by the voice. I had little doubt that his Wagner recital would be as good as people were saying. My expectations were more than adequately fulfilled. Kaufmann keeps alive the great Heldentenor tradition and also shows the plasticity of the finest representatives of that tradition. Most obviously, he is able to pare down his voice ideally for the greater intimacy of the Wesendonck Lieder. But in the operas as well, he stuns with the resounding blast of his cries of "Waelse" in Act 1 of Die Walkure, in the course of establishing his mastery of the sword which his father Wotan had bequeathed for emergencies. Then again, he is reserve itself in his exchange with the Woodbird, in the corresponding act of Siegfried.

Kaufmann is the star of the show. But it would be wrong to pass over the gorgeous and supporting carpet of string tone provided by the orchestra of the Deutsche Oper, Berlin, under the experienced eye of their director, Donald Runnicles. A perfect blend of voice and instrument faithfully captured by the warm recording.
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on 7 May 2013
In a rare stroke of luck my order arrived a couple of days after I had seen the recent Met broadcast of Parsifal with Kaufmann as the innocent fool. I have hardly stopped playing this disc since. The singing is exceptional, the orchestral playing superb and Decca have been generous enough to include the additional chorus on "In fernem Land, unnahbar euren Schritten" - readers may like to look for this piece sung by Kaufmann that someone has uploaded to YouTube. The rendition here is heart breaking.
When the disc appeared I was reminded of a similar disc from the late Peter Hofmann that was released in the mid 1980s. Much as I liked Hofmann's voice, this older recording had more crowd pleasers and it is to Kaufmann's credit that he has earned rave reviews from by including some less obvious choices.
If you have not bought this yet the press 'add to basket'.
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on 21 March 2013
I look forward enormously to the inevitable stage performances of Jonas Kaufmann in Rienzi, Siegfried, Tannhauser when the time comes. Here we are given a tantalising glimpse of joys to come. A peerless singer of enormous intelligence, range and dramatic capability exhibiting radiant tone -Kaufmann mesmerises audiences and sells out the largest venues. Here his nuanced interpretation of each work marks him out as a truly great singer. The orchestra is well tempered and attuned to the dramatic landscape of each piece -supporting the singer and transporting the listener to the world of Wagner's libretti. This is surely how Wagner would have wanted his tenor roles to be sung. A fitting 200th anniversary celebration.
The Wesendonck lieder -usually sung by female singers- were beautifully performed and were a delightful unexpected gift to the listener.
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on 13 March 2016
I agree with the previous reviews. He is not only a great helden tenor, but is just as much at home with Puccini and Verdi. I was keen to compare his Rienzi with my old Melchior recording. In this respect Melchior is still supreme, but only just. In every respect Kaufmann is the perfect Wagnerian. He also has Melchior's sense of fun and mischief.
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on 3 March 2013
This is the best CD of Wagner excerpts for some time. Kaufmann is stunning and brilliantly supported by the masterly conducting of Runnicles. The excerpts from Lohengrin and Die Walküre are particularly fine. And the Wesendonck-Lieder are just as successful with a tenor of Kaufmann's distinction as with the more usual female voice.
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