Financial Times, February 1, 2013
By Andrew Clark
Wagner: Die Walküre; Jonas Kaufmann: Arias and Lieder by Wagner
The Master of Bayreuth’s bicentenary releases both feature the world’s leading Wagner tenor

The link between these Wagner bicentenary releases is not just the master of Bayreuth. It is Kaufmann, who sings a rapturous Siegmund on the first instalment of Valery Gergiev’s St Petersburg Ring and treats us to a matchless Wagner recital with the Orchestra of Berlin’s Deutsche Oper under Donald Runnicles.

The recital not only showcases the Wagner roles Kaufmann has conquered in costume – Lohengrin (“In fernem Land”), Siegmund (“Ein Schwert verhiess mir der Vater” from Act 1 of Die Walküre) and Stolzing (“Am stillen Herd” from Meistersinger Act 1) – but also offers tantalising glimpses of more strenuous parts to which he will surely graduate in coming years.

The “Song to the Woodbird” from Siegfried Act 2 captures him at his most lyrical, while Tannhäuser’s Act 3 Rome Narration is a triumph of heroic timbre, dramatic intensity and musical sensibility: at no point do you feel Kaufmann is going through the motions.

The gem for me is the Wesendonck Lieder, intended for soprano and yet, thanks to singing of such melting ardour, perfectly “owned” by the world’s leading Wagner tenor.

As for Gergiev’s spaciously paced Walküre, Wagnerites will not be disappointed. The Mariinsky maestro’s experience of touring The Ring internationally stands him and his orchestra in good stead in the studio. Alongside home-grown singers for Fricka, Hunding and the Valkyrie maidens he has imported what is arguably the best quartet of principals available today for this opera – Stemme’s classic Brünnhilde, Kampe’s exciting Sieglinde, Pape’s heavyweight Wotan and, yes, the peerless Kaufmann.


Die Walküre ****

Nina Stemme, Anja Kampe, Jonas Kaufmann, René Pape


4 CDs

Jonas Kaufmann *****

Arias and Lieder by Wagner


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