The Sunday Times, 9. Juli 2006
Classical CD of the Week: Richard Strauss: Lieder
Five stars
Jonas Kaufmann (tenor), Helmut Deutsch (piano)
Harmonia Mundi HMC 901879
Strauss’s songs are usually regarded as the preserve of the soprano voice (many of his earlier lieder were written for his wife, Pauline de Ahna). It’s strange that so few tenors have recorded this repertoire, since most of the poets Strauss set were male and the “voice of the poet” is masculine, too. Here, in a thrilling recital debut on disc, the outstanding young German tenor offers a selection of 28 lieder, some of them Strauss’s best-loved works in the genre: he opens (oddly) with Zueignung (Dedication), often given as an encore, but many of the favourites are here. Kaufmann’s tenor is big-boned and passionate, resplendent at the top, yet he can rein his voice in for the intimacies of Ruhe, meine Seele and Morgen. His diction is exemplary and he creates an individual tone for each song, not least the self-mocking irony of Ach weh mir unglückhaftem Mann (Woe is me, unhappy man) and Schlechtes Wetter (Bad weather). His pianist, Helmut Deutsch, is one of lieder’s most experienced, and he revels in Strauss’s flamboyant writing. An essential disc for lovers of art-song.

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