The Buffalo News, February 10, 2013
Kaufmann, Wagner
The first time I heard Jonas Kaufmann, singing Schubert, I recognized quality when I heard it. He continues to impress in this Wagner collection, including excerpts from “Die Walkure,” “Siegfried,” “Tannhauser,” “Lohengrin” and “Die Meistersinger.” And there are two very cool touches. One is music from Wagner’s early opera “Rienzi.” The other is that Kaufmann sings Wagner’s “Wesendonck Lieder.” How often do you hear a man sing them? Kaufmann’s tenor has a low timbre, almost like a baritone. I wonder if in later years he will begin taking on lower Wagner roles, as Placido Domingo has done. I can imagine that, because Kaufmann has so many wonderful things going for him. One is his sheer power. As Siegmund in “Walkure” he gets going like a steam engine, holding syllables so long and so powerfully that you find yourself thinking your CD is stuck. His lyricism mirrors the subtle, pensive orchestrations. In “Siegfried,” his exchange with the Forest Bird is enchanting. Rienzi holds its own surprisingly well among the later operas. The Wesendonck Lieder take getting used to – Wagner specified that they be sung by a woman – but Kaufmann gives the songs the same dramatic, operatic beauty and intensity that I imagine more tenors will follow in his footsteps.

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