The Times, 20. September 2013
Geoff Brown
Jonas Kaufmann: The Verdi Album
It is pompously called The Verdi Album, as if other current Verdi CDs are either impoverished or imposters. Yet the title may be justified. For vocal excitement and dramatic power Jonas Kaufmann does indeed sweep the board with this collection of tenor arias, mostly featuring operatic characters which the German marvel has yet to sing on stage.

On the basis of this recital, it would certainly be worth paying an arm and a leg whenever he gets round to Otello. “Oh Gloria!” he sings as Otello’s life ebbs, the strangled Desdemona beneath him. Our spines tingle at Kaufmann’s force; but we shiver too at his sudden moments of quiet reverence or desolation. Kaufmann’s expert control of dynamics has never been so impressive, nor has the sheer weight of tone currently at his command.

His theatrical flair is also impressive. No selection tops the Otello tracks for desperate anguish. But every personage is presented in the round, even when the aria’s a chestnut like La donna è mobile. Alvaro’s O tu, che in seno from La Forza del Destino is a particular test. Can a singer be heroic and lyrical both at once? No problem for Kaufmann; nor does he tremble at the troubadour Manrico, or Rodolfo from Luisa Miller, whose sobs emerged well embedded, never turned on like a tap. The Orchestra dell’Opera di Palma, conductor Pier Giorgio Morandi, and baritone Franco Vassallo, among others, give sterling support.

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