Jonas Kaufmann has been called the leading heldentenor of his generation. Some go further, asserting he is the greatest Wagnerian tenor of the day. His recent Wagner disc on Decca containing Wesendonck lieder and various selections from operas was a major success worldwide. I won't dispute any claims regarding his talent but will in fact add to them with the observation that he is clearly one of the leading tenors of his generation in almost any kind of repertory. His voice is lustrous and powerful, yet can reduce to soft and caressing tones with seeming effortlessness. His legato is creamy and smooth, his technique seeming flawless and his diction utterly clear and crisp. He has it all.
Kaufmann's La donna e mobile (track 1) is very light and ebullient, having a bouncy jaunt to its high spirits. Yet Kaufmann's voice is quite potent throughout the aria, its heldentenor character showing through boldly. Indeed, in virtually all of the numbers on the disc Kaufmann comes through with muscularity to his singing that is most striking. Perhaps a few listeners will prefer something along the line of a lyric tenor or spinto tenor, but to me Kaufmann is splendid both interpretively and technically, and you can't find fault with his take on any of the arias he sings here.
His two numbers as Riccardo in Un Ballo in Maschera are both totally convincing, especially the latter, Forsa la soglia attinse (4), where he sings with a dark and convincing passion. He imparts much the same kind of gravitas as Manrico from Il Trovatore in the following number Ah! si, ben mio (5), and when he reaches the well-known favorite Di quella pira (5), he ratchets up the sense of anxiety and desperation, while fully capturing the more colorful and catchy character of the music.
Kaufmann's Quando le sere al placido (6) from Luisa Miller is another instance of passion being poured on with a totally convincing manner and in vocal tones of great beauty and power. I could go on citing additional examples of his magnificent vocal resources on this disc, like his heartrending account of O tu, che in seno agli angeli (9) from La Forza del Destino, or his passionate and desperate take on Dio! Mi potevi scagliar from Otello, but all the tracks are excellent. As you listen to the recording, you move from highlight to highlight.
The sound on the disc is quite vivid and the singing by the other soloists is fine. Pier Giorgio Morandi draws excellent performances from the orchestra and chorus to round out one of the finest discs I've encountered this year. Highest recommendations.
Copyright © 2013, Robert Cummings