Classics Today
Robert Levine
Richard Strauss, Lieder
Jonas Kaufmann (tenor), Helmut Deutsch (piano)
Harmonia Mundi HMC 901879
Recordings of Richard Strauss' songs sung by tenor are relatively rare, and this one, with 28 selections, is a fine addition to the catalog. Jonas Kaufmann, a young, handsome singer with a big, expressive voice that can be steely as well as gentle (he sang Alfredo at the Met a season back) approaches these songs as mini-dramas, but without overstating his case. His involvement is admirable, and his diction is impeccable throughout. He sings "Ruhe meine Seele" with real introspection but true power in the big moments, and he presents the equally familiar "Zueignung" with passionate commitment. "Befreit" captures transcendent love and is sung with stunning legato. The big B-natural with which Kaufmann ends "Cäcilie" would make an Otello proud, and his sense of storytelling fun comes across nicely in "Ach weh mir unglückhaftem Mann", while "Freundliche Vision" is sweet, with its Italianate turns. It contrasts well with the rousing "Ich liebe dich" that follows it--the CD is programmed well.

You get the feeling that Kaufmann has almost too much voice for lieder. He has no trouble controlling it, but the obvious relish with which he lets loose gives the impression that he wants to sing Apollo (in Daphne) or Bacchus (in Ariadne)--and that we would kill for him to take on these difficult Strauss roles. This is a fine CD and Kaufmann is a tenor whose career we should follow. Helmut Deutsch's accompaniments are ideal, and the sound, though occasionally a bit overreverberant, is very good.

 back top