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The Perfect Wagnerian Tenor
on February 13, 2013
Jonas Kaufmann has it all - a stunningly beautiful voice that seems to have no limits to range or timbre, movie star good looks, perfect enunciation, and a brilliant actor. Though his other recorded recitals have left no doubt that he is the `real thing', this recording devoted entirely to Wagner proves that fact even more conclusively. He is ably supported by Donald Runnicles and the Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin and in both the operatic excerpts and the lieder the result is polished, exciting, dramatic, and simply magnificent singing.
Though Kaufmann has established his place on the stages of the world as the definitive Wagnerian tenor in the Ring, Parsifal, and Lohengrin, here he adds arias from Tannhäuser and Rienzi - roles he has yet to assume.
Of interest Kaufmann extends the Grail Narrative from Lohengrin to include the second verse - a verse Wagner cut before the premiere and which appears on recordings for the first time here. He is a brave step for Kaufmann but it does indeed demonstrate how immersed in Wagner's output he is. It is the most memorable version on records.
There are many unforgettable moments in this recording, not the least of which is the triumphant moment from the Siegmund scene when he pulls the sword and sings full voice the extended notes of `Wälse!'. There is such mighty power and breathtaking vocal production here that Kaufmann embodies the strength and determination and power of the young Siegmund. It is an astonishing achievement. Another memorable moment his Kaufmann's offering of the prayer from Rienzi.
And yet for all the virile excitement Kaufmann brings to the arias from Wagner's at times impossible operas, he draws upon in a different concept in singing the five Wesendonck Lieder - works usually intended for the female voice but here offered in the tenor range and the result is sublime. This album was especially recorded as an offering honoring Wagner's anniversary year. It could not be a better tribute. The works included here are as follows:
Ein Schwert verhieß mir der Vater from Die Walküre
Daß der mein Vater nicht ist...Du holdes Voglein from Siegfried
Allmächt'ger Vater, blick herab from Rienzi
Inbrunst im Herzen from Tannhäuser
Am stillen Herd from Die meistersinger von Nürnberg
In fernem Land, unnahbar euren Schritten from Lohengrin
And the following Wesendonck Lieder:
And now we await Kaufmann's recorded Parsifal. He is the pinnacle of Wagnerian tenors, past and present. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, February 13