Timeout, New York, 10. August 2006
Marion Lignana Rosenberg
Richard Strauss, Lieder, Jonas Kaufmann, tenor, with Helmut Deutsch, piano (Harmonia Mundi)
Album review, 5 stars
Jonas Kaufmann (tenor), Helmut Deutsch (piano)
Harmonia Mundi HMC 901879
Tenor Jonas Kaufmann rocked New York last season when he made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Alfredo in Verdi’s La traviata. A fiery presence onstage, the studly Munich native sang with arresting confidence and a ringing, burnished sound, holding his own opposite no less formidable a diva than Angela Gheorghiu.

A versatile artist whose repertoire ranges from Monteverdi to Wagner and beyond, Kaufmann returns to the house in October as Tamino in Julie Taymor’s staging of Mozart’s The Magic Flute and reprises Alfredo next spring. This admirable Harmonia Mundi CD finds him taking on music often associated with opulent-voiced sopranos— the songs of Richard Strauss.

The rapture and robust tone that the tenor brings to such classics as “Zueignung” and “Cäcilie” make one long to hear him as Bacchus, the hero of Ariadne auf Naxos. Though Kaufmann has room to grow as an interpreter of lied, he creates a sweetly introspective mood in “Traum durch die Dämmerung,” with supple phrasing and fine control of dynamics. Helmut Deutsch offers sensitive accompaniments throughout, his playing especially dewy in “Morgen!”.
In the end, the greatest pleasure of this 28-song program is the chance to savor Strauss’s ever-inventive way with the form and his skill as a word-setter—qualities sometimes obscured when these works roll by as a series of soprano lovefests. Beautiful, intelligent singing and a chance to hear gorgeous music anew: What’s not to like?

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