18 Feb 2008
Jonas Kaufmann—Romantic Arias
Jonas Kaufmann’s debut album is a treat to the ears of opera lovers.
Paul Dukas’ Ariane et Barbe-Bleue, first heard in 1907, once seemed important. Arturo Toscanini conducted the Met premiere in 1911 with Farrar and later arranged some of its music for a 1947 recording with his NBC Symphony.
The economics of the recording companies dictate much that is not ideal. Wagner’s operas were not composed as they were in order to permit the extraction of bleeding chunks, even on those occasions when strophic song forms do occur.
Among the recent recordings of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, Valery Gergiev’s release on the LSO Live label is an excellent addition to the discography of this work.
While not unknown, the songs of Alexander von Zemlinsky (1871-1942) deserve to be heard more frequently.
Recorded on 5 and 6 May 2008 and 17 and 18 January 2009 at the Lisztzentrum (Raiding, Austria), this recent Bridge release makes available the piano-vocal versions of three song cycles by Gustav Mahler, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Rückert-Lieder, and Kindertotenlieder performed by mezzo-soprano Hermine Haselböck, accompanied by Russell Ryan.
Contraltos rarely achieve the acclaim and renown of sopranos. Assigned few leading roles in opera, they are condemned to playing the villain or the grandmother, or to stealing the castrati’s trousers in en travesti roles.
Following their 2011 Decca recording of Striggio’s Mass in 40 Parts (1566), I Fagiolini continue their quest to unearth lost treasures of the High Renaissance and early Baroque, with this collection of world-premiere recordings, ‘reconstructions’ and ‘reconstitutions’ of music by Giovanni and Andrea Gabrieli, Monteverdi, Palestrina, and their less well-known compatriots Viadana, Barbarino and Soriano.
Eternal Echoes is an album of khazones [Jewish cantorial music] for cantorial soloist, solo violin and a blended instrumental ensemble comprising a small orchestra and the Klezmer Conservatory Band.
Michael Tilson Thomas’s recording of Mahler’s Third Symphony is an outstanding contribution to the composer’s discography.
Oliver Knussen burst into British music with an unprecedented flourish. In 1967, the London Symphony Orchestra premiered Knussen’s First Symphony, with István Kertész scheduled to conduct.
Based on performances given in Summer 2010 at the Lucerne Festival, this recording of Beethoven’s Fidelio is an admirable recording that captures the vitality of the work as conducted by Claudio Abbado.
Stanisław Moniuszko (1819-1872) was one of the most popular composers of his day in Poland, and of the many works he wrote for the stage, two are performed from time to time, Halka (1848) and Strazny dwór [The Haunted Manor] (1865).
The Polish alto Jadwiga Rappé is a familiar voice in various stage and concert works, and the recent release of a selection of songs by Stanisław Moniuszko (1819-1872) is an opportunity to hear her performing artsongs.
Originally released on multiple discs in 1981 this reissue on two CDs is a comprehensive collection of art songs by Italian and French composers from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
An exciting contribution to the discography of this popular opera, the live performance of Richard Strauss’s Salome from the Festspielhaus at Baden-Baden is a compelling DVD.
Released in late 2011, Deutsche Grammophon’s DVD of the new staging of Berg’s Lulu at the Gran Teatro del Liceu, Barcelona is an excellent contribution to the discography of this fascinating opera.
A recent release by the Metropolitan Opera, this two-disc set makes available on DVD the famous performance of Berg’s Lulu that was broadcast on 20 December 1980 as part of the PBS series “Live from the Met.”
The novels of Sinclair Lewis once shot across the American literary skies like comets, alarming and fascinating readers of that era, but their tails didn’t extend far behind them.
Once the province of only the most dedicated opera fanatics, mid-20th century recordings of privately taped live performances have become more widely available.
Flute players in opera orchestra around the world must look forward to the frequent appearances of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, knowing that while the stage spotlight in the mad scene will be on the soprano, the orchestral spotlight will be on their instrument.
Jonas Kaufmann’s debut album is a treat to the ears of opera lovers.
This young German singer is making a fine reputation for himself in European opera houses. He has appeared at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York most recently as Alfredo in La Traviata, which he is scheduled to reprise in March of this year.
So this is an eagerly awaited album on both sides of the pond. And the wait was worth it.
There are 13 tracks on the disc that represent a variety of styles. The standards are there, “Che gelida manina” from La Boheme, “La Fleur que tu m’avais jetee” from Carmen, and “E Lucevan le stelle” from Tosca. These are well sung and totally fit the title of the album in evoking the romantic feelings that their composers intended.
This tenor is building a reputation on a broader scale than those familiar arias would indicate. Some of the composers on this disc range from Flotow, to Verdi, to Wagner and include Berlioz and Gounod and Massenet. Kaufmann is a versatile singer who, here, demonstrates where his skills and talent may take him in the future. He has sung Parsifal and Florestan (Fidelio) on stage, which is even more testimony to his versatility.
The Prize Song from Die Meistersinger is beautifully rendered, and I hope it might be a precursor to his singing that role down the road.
Each of the selections on the album requires a different degree of passion and Kaufmann gives us that. The gentle song of love to Mimi in La Boheme that rings with his new found passion for her is contrasted with the beautiful “Pourquoi mr revellier” from Werther, an aria of unfulfilled love and passion and the precursor to Werther’s death. Kaufmann clearly understands the different passionate needs of the arias and fulfills those emotions..
I was particular impressed with his attention to the words and his diction in the three languages sung on this album. I want a singer to sing the words and not slur them so they are unrecognizable as language. Kaufmann is as clear in his native German as in he French and Italian.
There is a rich, dark and intriguing quality to Kaufmann’s voice. His commitment to the works he is singing is readily apparent. I suspect that over time the darker tenor roles such as Cavaradossi and Don Carlo will be more his style than the lighter Alfredo. I found his delivery effortless and his demeanor very romantic indeed!
Missing from this debut effort is anything by Mozart. Kaufmann includes many of the composer’s work in his repertoire. One would hope that the lack of any Mozart on this disc might be a precursor to a disc of Mozart or German composers in the future. So if anyone at Decca is listening………..
This is a tenor for the 21st Century who has a fresh sound and some fresh ideas and will grace our opera houses for a long time. His good looks as well as his beautiful voice will continue to give rise to the romantic leading man image that this album is all about.