Jonas Kaufmann impresses with his finely judged phrasing, psychological acuity and seductive swagger
The Sunday, October 20 2019
David Mellor
This imaginative album from Jonas Kaufmann contains not just Viennese music but Viennese songs and arias about the city. It's very well sung, with only a few signs of the vocal problems that have afflicted him in recent years. It's also well accompanied by the Vienna Philharmonic under Adám Fischer and, at 78 minutes, is excellent value.

The Johann Strauss items include few of the usual suspects. The only well-known aria is Franz Lehár's Lippen Schweigen from The Merry Widow, a duet with Rachel Willis-Sorensen.

It's good to be taken off the beaten track with two songs by Robert Stolz, the last of the waltz kings, and items by unknowns, at least to me, such as Rudolf Sieczynski and Hans May. May's two songs come from a 1935 movie starring the ill-fated tenor Joseph Schmidt, who died aged just 38.

The second of these, Es Wird lm Leben... is very touching and shows that Kaufmann is happy to engage with Austria's murky past, as well as its joyous one.

He ends with another Jewish composer, Georg Kreisler and his cynical view of Vienna where, as Kaufmann says, Kreisler illuminates his Vienna and his Jewish roots with a healthy dose of sarcasm.'

 back top