In fernem Land ... bin Lohengrin genannt (Lohengrin)
Mein lieber Schwan ... Leb wohl! (Lohengrin)
Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön ... Ware sie dann mein (Die Zauberflöte)
Die Weisheitslehre ... führt mich der Ton zu ihr (Die Zauberflöte)
Was quälst du mich ... In tiefbewegter Brust (Fierrabras)
Schon, wenn es beginnt zu tragen ...und mein Herze will ihm nach (Alfonso und Estrella)
Gott, Welch Dunkel ... In des lebens Frühlingstagen (Fidelio)
Wintererstürme wichen dem Wonnemond (Die Walküre)
Amfortas! Die Wunde! ... Ewig von mir (Parsifal)
Nur eine Waffe taugt ... (Parsifal)
Jonas Kaufmann has already performed many of these roles on the world's great opera stages. This album consists of outstanding arias from German opera; music of his homeland, which he grew up hearing. Includes outstanding ... more »German tenor arias from the great operas of Wagner, Beethoven's only opera Fidelio, favorite arias by Mozart, and rarely heard opera arias by Schubert. The great opera conductor Claudio Abbado directs the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Track list includes arias from the Magic Flute, Fidelio, Die Walkure, and others.« less
Jonas Kaufmann has already performed many of these roles on the world's great opera stages. This album consists of outstanding arias from German opera; music of his homeland, which he grew up hearing. Includes outstanding German tenor arias from the great operas of Wagner, Beethoven's only opera Fidelio, favorite arias by Mozart, and rarely heard opera arias by Schubert. The great opera conductor Claudio Abbado directs the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Track list includes arias from the Magic Flute, Fidelio, Die Walkure, and others.
Kaufmann back on home territory - and in tremendous form
Ralph Moore | Bishop's Stortford, UK | 09/13/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have heard Jonas Kaufmann live (and been very impressed) but not yet in any Wagner. On the evidence of this disc, he is more than ready, as long as he has the vocal stamina, to take the world by storm in the big Wagnerian roles, culminating, I hope, one day - but not too soon - in Tristan. The real gems here are the two Lohengrin and two Parsifal arias which bookend the recital. Kaufmann is powerful, tender, touching and stirring by turns and the voice can do exactly what he wants it to: the pianissimo mezza-voce opening to "Mein Lieber Schwan!" is stunning; then he opens up into "O Elsa! Nur ein Jahr an deine Seite!" in a wholly convincing way: love and desperation perfectly combined in a melting, but virile, mix. Half way through the last "Parsifal" aria, it came to me; say "Jon Vickers" while you are listening to Kaufmann there and you come closest to the voice his most resembles: the husky, baritonal quality with a strange beauty of its own but which does not always quite suit the Romantic repertoire he can also undertake - hence the mixed reactions to his Pinkerton and the recital album "Romantic Arias". His voice is much more in the tradition of Vickers, Ramon Vinay and Ludwig Suthaus; it is quite absurd of one German reviewer to waffle on about how Kaufmann "carries on the great tradition of German tenors such as Fritz Wunderlich"; he sounds absolutely nothing like Wunderlich, much as I love both. Nor is he anything like the honeyed, sensuous tones of Domingo or the sunlit, thrilling sound of Pavarotti: this is not an Italianate voice but a real Heldentenor in the making, one to succeed Ben Heppner. Having got Vickers' voice in mind, I went back to the magnificent "Winterstürme" and confirmed that at times the two voices are virtually indistinguishable - but his Siegmund is so compelling that the truncation of the aria with a concert ending is a disappointment: you want to hear Sieglinde come swooping in!
The wonder of this voice is that it can still sing Tamino so winningly and delicately; it shows that Kaufmann really is looking after his instrument. He has mostly abandoned the little, glottal, "gulping" tic that irritated me in the "Madama Butterfly" and seems capable of more nuance than ever. It is good to hear the extended excerpt from "Die Zauberflöte" where Kaufmann's sensitive singing is complemented by a nice Speaker from Michael Volle and the Regio di Parma chorus. It's almost as if Kaufmann is making a point by including so much Mozart in a disc also distinguished by its Wagner performances; he has retained the flexibility of his youthful voice and hence still has Tamino very much in his repertoire.
The slightly recherché items here are the two Schubert arias from "Fierrebras" and Alfonso und Estrella". They are not the greatest music Schubert ever wrote by far, but it's good to hear something outside the normal, hackneyed repertoire and Kaufmann sings them as well as he sings everything in this lovely recital. The second aria is particularly charming; typical of the composer's strophic manner with variations.
Finally, the great "Fidelio" aria is given full weight and yet again brings to mind Vickers at his best - yet not even Vickers could start the G on "Gott" in the falsetto and swell the note into full voice as seamlessly as Kaufmann manages to do here. It is such touches of individual artistry that mark out Kaufmann as no Vickers clone - but goodness knows there is room for two such artists within fifty years.
The accompaniments by Abbado and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra are as fine as you would expect; the orchestra discreetly adopts vibrato-less HIPster practice for the Mozart and the Beethoven, but soups it up for the Wagner and makes a beautiful, rich, sonorous sound. Abbado's phrasing and tempi are flawless, of course. The horns in the "Fidelio" aria are especially grand.
This is the best recital disc I have heard for a long time and I am so glad to see Kaufmann returning to the territory where he really rules rather than succumbing to commercial pressures to do more Verdi and Puccini. He can be great in both and I am very much looking forward to hearing Kaufmann's Don Carlo at Covent Garden next week - but it is in the core German territory where his voice really belongs and excels.
A not inconsiderable achievement.
Abel | Hong Kong | 09/25/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"May be to most opera goers globally Jonas Kaufmann is a relatively new name. However, research shows this tenor has been around for almost two decades, with solid vocal credentials to his credit by singing in mostly European houses. Some of the operatic excerpts in this new album are from operas that Kaufmann has sung on stage and recorded over the years: Fierrabras, Fidelio, Die Zauberflote, Parsifal, though I don't think he has performed Die Walkure yet. I am not sure if he is a heldentenor in the specie of Melchior, but his similarity with Vickers has been noted by many. I think one major difference between Kaufmann and Vickers is that Kaufmann is able to tackle roles for smaller voices that Vickers was not adept. If Kaufmann is able to keep his performances mostly in Europe and smaller houses, there is an overwhelming chance that he would become the next standard bearer of German opera. One very good thing about Kaufmann's singing is that he is always very affecting, no matter in Mozart, Schubert, Wagner, Beethoven or what not. Some have queried his interpretation in Dies Bildnis as being 'over'. To me, Kaufmann's version is 'just fine', more affecting and human than the vocally 100% performance of Fritz Wunderlich more than half a century ago. It is exactly this aspect of Kaufmann's singing that will set him apart from other big names in German or other repertoire. I fully agree that this album is among the finest vocal album to come out this past decade."
Kaufmann's German Recital: Best Classical Album of the Year
G P Padillo | Portland, ME United States | 05/05/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For weeks now I've been obsessed with two extremely different CD recitals. I've written already about Simon Keenlyside's outstanding Wigmore Hall song recital and now it's time to rave about Jonas and his Opera Arias of Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven & Wagner.
In ''Dies Bildnis Ist Bezaubernd Schön'' I was immediately struck by a similarity to another tenor's rendition of it: Fritz Wunderlich's. No, the two German tenors don't sound all that much the same - but Kaufmann's almost seemingly innate beauty of line felt nearly identical to Wunderlich's. It is Mozart singing of an exquisite and unusual beauty.
The "Wunderlich Connection" continues with Schubert's too infrequently performed "Fierrabras" (of which a gorgeously sung, but bothersome regie production exists on DVD, Kaufmann gotten up as a young Schubert). As rare as the work tends to be, Wunderlich also is featured in a live performance. The opera has problems, but the recit and aria ''Was Quälst du mich, o Missgeschick . . . " might make a few converts to at least selections from this rather beautiful work.
An even more persuasive case for Schubert comes in one of the most exquisitely sung (and marvelously phrased) "Schon wenn es beginnt zu tagen" from Alfonso und Estrella. There is such delicate, almost gauzy shading in the middle of the aria, with Schubert's lied-like aria smelling strongly of Beethoven at times - and wondrously so. This really is a breathtaking performance in every way.
In the natural progression, Beethoven DOES arrive next in Florestan's great scene "Gott! welch Dunkel hier!" Here, Claudio Abbado's leads the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in one of the most sensitive preludes to this scene I have ever heard in a recording. Here, also, Herr Kaufmann outdoes himself from his live performance recording in giving a sense Florestan's depth of despair. - his opening "Gott!" - almost inaudible when he first enters - reveals a true groan of anguish as it swells to full tragic hopelessness - and from there builds into the ecstatic hymn of hope and love of life and Leonore at its end. Unbelievable. For a moment I searched my mind, "has there ever been a more sensitively and beautifully phrased performance of this? Vickers sprang immediately to mind, but I left him alone for a moment to answer myself with "with singing of such beauty and passion, why compare?"
The rest of the album's contents are five Wagnerian selections which bookend the disc. First up are Lohengrin's two famous arias and in them I think we're catching the beginning phases of one of the major Wagnerians of our very near future. The recital opens just about perfectly with one of the most heartfelt, richly nuanced renditions of "In fernem Land" I have heard in a long, long time. The conversational nature of the aria begins so gently, but with no loss of intensity as it builds, Kaufmann and Abbado stretching Wagner's lines with an almost gauzelike delicacy of dynamics that waver back and forth in the type of performance that has one on the edge of the seat, held rapt throughout as it explodes into the stunning climax only to again recede all of it so captured as if almost by some religious magic. And so it goes through all five Wagnerian arias.
Among all the operas I love, perhaps none is more dear to me (for many reasons) than Parsifal and in his two selections, Kaufmann captures that perfect balance of spirituality and storytelling so necessary in this role. The tenor's first cry of "Amfortas!" - the intensity and heartbreak inherent in his sound - almost as if built into it, reminded me (again) of Vickers in this moment.
To end this album with the entire final Grail Ceremony is an incredible touch (to me, at least) and while generally I would prefer this music not be taken out of context, Abbado leads his forces (including the Coro del Teatro Regio di Parma) in an effective reading that can only be commended and Kaufmann's two shining moments as the Innocent Fool become the Grail King only whet the appetite for what's to come. It should be something special."
Kaufmann is our best hope in German opera
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 04/06/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It has taken a year for Universal to release Jonas Kaufmann's recital of German arias in the U.S., a pattern that is growing too familiar. Does this signal that the American market has dwindled far below the European? Now that it has arrived, the five-star reviews that preceded the new CD don't leave much room for surprises. Decca is marketing Kaufmann as an all-purpose replacement for superstar tenors like Pavarotti and Domingo, but he's a cat of a different stripe. Born in Munich and now forty, Kaufmann has fit himself into his native German repertoire, and a voice once small enough to sing Jacquino in Fidelio has grown and darkened to the point where he debuted his Lohengrin last summer. Therefore, one foresees a career trajectory that will probably imitate Siegfried Jerusalem's, taking a semi-Heldentenor and pushing it to eventually encompass heavier Wagnerian roles. Of course, Kaufmann has a choice, and even though his tone is naturally baritonal, he may continue to sing Puccini, Verid, and Massenet, where he's already scored considerable success.
I am delighted with his artistry, excellent intonation, and discipline. Kaufmann's voice is also quickly recognizable, which sets him apart from other rising tenors; you can't become a star without "face" in your singing. I've waited rather late to comment on the CD itself, but there's nothing to criticize. Every aria is done with style and considerable charisma. Kaufmann's voice used to have more of that thrilling ping at the top that the Italians call squillo, but German tenors don't need it, really, as witness Jerusalem's smooth delivery. Kaufmann is equally smooth and consistent from top to bottom. Only in Tamino's "Das Bildnis" aria does memory bring back the incomparable Fritz Wunderlich, who had squillo aplenty and whose ghost haunts all German tenors four decades after his premature death. But the ghost is almost banished by Kaufmann's fervent, perfectly voiced rendition. German tenors tend to have one of two flaws: the tone can be beefy and therefore dull and workmanlike, or they can develop a snarl, which is noticeable in Peter Schreier and Rene Kollo. To be candid, Kaufmann's timbre used to be sweeter, but that's true for almost all tenors passing into middle age, vocally speaking. Kaufmann is free of either flaw so far.
It's unusual to see excerpts from Schubert's operas on a disc like this, but Kaufmann has made a bit of a name in this repertoire. His signature aria is Florestan's "Gott! Welch Dunkel hier," and he is as stunning as ever, fearlessly encompassing the music's wide range and dramatic demands -- no one since the days of Jon Vickers has sung it better. I wish the aging Claudio Abbado had supplied more vigorous accompaniments, but with several listenings that has become a smaller complaint. It says a lot about the hope being placed in Kaufmann that a first-rate conductor was provided. It's a finger post to the future that the program ends with items from Die Walkure and Parsifal. Nothing seems to stand in the way of an excellent Siegmund and a hero of the Grail."
Kaufmann in opera and song
Paul A. Gaeng | LADY LAKE, FLORIDA, US | 05/18/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The new German tenor sensation is at home in opera and art song alike. He is not only a outstanding singer but he is also a sensitive and intelligent artist. He knows hows to adapt his voice and style to every genre he interprets, whether it is delicate Mozart or Schubert or heroic Wagner. He demonstrates in his operatic recital that he is also at home in the Italian and French repertoires. This and the other CDs are highly recommended and certainly a must for any lover of the German art song and opera."