Jonas Kaufmann – Wagner (2013) [HRA FLAC 24bit/96kHz]

Jonas Kaufmann, Donald Runnicles , Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra – Wagner (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Digital Booklet | 1.35 GB
Genre: Classical | Official Digital Download – Source: Highresaudio

Kaufmann’s fifth solo album on Decca is specially recorded for the Wagner anniversary year by the world’s leading Wagner tenor. Kaufmann and Wagner is a classic combination: “For any Wagnerians who’ve been slumbering, Fafner-like, in their caves during the last few years, here’s your wake-up call: Jonas Kaufmann is the tenor we’ve been waiting for” (Washington Post).

A selection of the great Heldentenor scenes and arias coupled with the complete (and rarely recorded by the tenor voice) Wesendonck Lieder. Also includes scenes from Die Walküre, Siegfried , Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Tannhäuser and Lohengrin (extended Grail Scene – Gralserzählung – with its original second verse).

Joined by one of the most formidable combinations in the opera world today – the chorus and orchestra of the Deutsche Oper, Berlin, under director Donald Runnicles – this recording is also a sonic spectacular, made in Decca’s time-honoured tradition.

Composer: Richard Wagner
Performer: Jonas Kaufmann
Conductor: Donald Runnicles
Orchestra/Ensemble: Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra

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 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”.


Die Walküre
01. Ein Schwert Verhieß Mir Der Vater (Erster Aufzug)
Siegfried (Original Version)
02. “Daß der mein Vater nicht ist…Du holdes Voglein!” (Zweiter Aufzug)
Rienzi (Original Version)
03. “Allmächt’ger Vater, blick herab” (Act 1)
Tannhäuser (Original Version)
04. “inbrunst Im Herzen” (Dritter Akt)
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Original Version)
05. “Am stillen Herd” (Act 1)
Lohengrin (Original Version)
06. “in Fernem Land, Unnahbar Euren Schritten” (Dritter Aufzug)
07. Der Engel
08. Stehe still
09. Im Treibhaus
10. Schmerzen
11. Träume