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Wagner / Jonas Kaufmann


Release Date: 02/12/2013 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 001802802   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Richard Wagner
Performer:  Jonas Kaufmann
Conductor:  Donald Runnicles
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews


This should clinch it: Jonas Kaufmann is the pre-eminent Wagner tenor of this generation. (Slated to sing Manrico soon, and judging from his Werther, he may just be the pre-eminent tenor, period.) For those who haven’t heard him, the voice is dark and manly, with easy ascents above the staff at all dynamic ranges (including some crooning that can become more like a mannerism than a service to the music), a top that rings loud and clear, phrasing that confirms great musicianship, a smooth legato, and flawless diction. When he sings softly for a period you are stunned by the power he can muster, and vice-versa. And the sound itself is beautiful—fully rounded, lustrous.

Rienzi’s prayer
Read more is inward, pious, and sung with seamless bel canto line; conversely, Tannhäuser’s Rome Narrative is tortured, enraged, and jagged, missing just a smidge of the insane coloring that, say, Wolfgang Windgassen gives to the Pope’s cruel edict. His Grail Narration from Lohengrin, sung complete with second verse, begins softly, seemingly in mid-air, and builds to a passionate climax. Siegmund’s first-act monologue, “Ein Schwert verhiess mir der Vater”, is delivered with ardor, dark, secure tone, and staggering breath control on the huge outcries of “Wälse”, probably not matched by any tenor since Melchior and Vickers. And his Siegfried is full of wonder in the Forest Murmurs, sung sweetly and with what can pass for true naiveté. “Am stillen Herd” from Die Meistersinger makes us want to hear the Prize Song.

The surprise entries here are the Wesendonck Lieder, invariably sung by mezzo-soprano or soprano. Kaufmann and the marvelous Donald Runnicles, who leads sympathetically and very much in keeping with his tenor’s strengths and feelings throughout the recital, do not linger morbidly or unnecessarily over each song; nor are they rushed. Runnicles allows the freshness of Kaufmann’s soft singing to take center stage (listen to “Traume”—it’s gorgeously dreamy) and he makes certain that the transparency in Wagner’s orchestration is at the fore. The understanding that they both—and Kaufmann in particular—bring to these songs never seems out of place; the fact that it is a man’s voice never jars. The sound on this recording and the playing of the Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin are peerless. As the joke goes, I wish I could jack up the scorecard and give this CD an “11-11”.

-- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Tannhäuser: Inbrunst im Herzen "Rome Narrative" by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Jonas Kaufmann (Tenor)
Conductor:  Donald Runnicles
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845/1861; Germany 
2.
Rienzi: Allmächt'ger Vater, blick herab by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Jonas Kaufmann (Tenor)
Conductor:  Donald Runnicles
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840-1843; Germany 
3.
Lohengrin: In fernem Land by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Jonas Kaufmann (Tenor)
Conductor:  Donald Runnicles
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1846-1847; Germany 
4.
Die Walküre: Ein Schwert verhiess mir der Vater by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Jonas Kaufmann (Tenor)
Conductor:  Donald Runnicles
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856; Germany 
5.
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Am stillen Herd by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Jonas Kaufmann (Tenor)
Conductor:  Donald Runnicles
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; Germany 
6.
Siegfried: Dass der mein Vater nicht ist by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Jonas Kaufmann (Tenor)
Conductor:  Donald Runnicles
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1871; Germany 
7.
Siegfried: Du holdes Vögelein by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Jonas Kaufmann (Tenor)
Conductor:  Donald Runnicles
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1871; Germany 
8.
Wesendonck Lieder by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Jonas Kaufmann (Tenor)
Conductor:  Donald Runnicles
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857-1858; Germany 

Sound Samples

Die Walküre / Erster Aufzug: "Ein Schwert verhieß mir der Vater"
Siegfried / Zweiter Aufzug: "Daß der mein Vater nicht ist...Du holdes Voglein!"
Rienzi / Act 5: "Allmächt'ger Vater, blick herab"
Tannhäuser / Act 3: "Inbrunst im Herzen"
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg / Act 1: "Am stillen Herd"
Lohengrin / Act 3: "In fernem Land, unnahbar euren Schritten"
Wesendonck Lieder: Der Engel
Wesendonck Lieder: Stehe still
Wesendonck Lieder: Im Treibhaus
Wesendonck Lieder: Schmerzen
Wesendonck Lieder: Träume

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  7 Customer Reviews )
 Amazing album July 4, 2014 By Weston Williams (Birmingham, AL) See All My Reviews "I cannot review this album highly enough. Buy it. Buy it now." Report Abuse
 Transcendent performance marred by recording qual September 22, 2013 By S. Collins (Weehawken, NJ) See All My Reviews "Jonas Kaufmann's interpretations of these songs will be legend. Rarely do we get to hear an artist become inhabited by the music and lyrics as happens within this genius. It's unfortunate that the engineering staff were not quite as competent as Mr. Kaufmann, because the sonic quality is a bit disappointing. It's just a guess, but perhaps the recordings were made slightly "hot," causing a brittleness on loud passages that made me reach too often for the remote. Or maybe it's that old bugaboo, the standard Red Book CD format that is to blame, as it is difficult to get it sounding natural. Even so, the less-than-ideal sound quality should not put off purchase of this CD by anyone who wants to witness a great artist and fine orchestra, working seamlessly for a transcendent experience. If your sound system is less than transparent, you may never hear a problem. Let's hope in future the engineering team is up to the challenge, and also selects SACD for distribution." Report Abuse
 Truly magnificent April 28, 2013 By S. Phillips (Minneapolis, MN) See All My Reviews "Dear Opera Fans and Those Yet-to-Be, After the pleasure of hearing and seeing Jonas Kaufmann in the Ring and Faust via the Met in HD the past two seasons, I might seem prejudiced. With each appearance, my admiration grew. The combination of a magnificent voice, plus effortless immersion in the characters, accompanied by great good looks, doesn't come along that often. Mr. Kaufmann truly inhabits his roles without straining. The orchestra played magnificently, adding depth to all. Wagner isn't easy for singers or orchestras! Adding Rienzi and Wesendonck-Lieder is a lovely bonus. As always, many thanks to ArkivMusic for excellent service. --SP" Report Abuse
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