The Jordan Times, Jordanien
By Jean-Claude Elias

Kaufmann - great interpretation
AMMAN - Fresh, new, this is the first sentiment that Jonas Kaufmann’s voice inspires. The collection of 13 popular arias featured on the new CD, taken from the opera repertoire, is a smart selection guaranteed to please classical music lovers. From “E lucevan le stelle” (Puccini, Tosca) and “La fleur que tu m’avais jetée” (Bizet, Carmen), to “Ella mi fu rapita” (Verdi, Rigoletto) and “Che gelida manina” (Puccini, La Bohème), Kaufmann displays exquisite musicality and the genuine, unaltered passion of someone who is relatively a newcomer on the international music scene.

Though he has been singing professionally since1990 , winning the Nürnberg Meistersinger Competition in1993 , the German tenor has only acquired an international standing after2000 .

His voice warm and full, he is also quiet in control of the tempo.

Kaufmann delivers a great interpretation of the arias. He is versatile and appears equally brilliant in the different pieces recorded for the CD. As different as “Lunge da lei” (Verdi, La Traviata) and “Quel trouble inconnu” (Gounod, Faust) may be in composition and style, Kaufmann manages to conjure up the right musical and dramatic atmosphere. This versatility allows him to tackle a wide variety of music programmes.

With a voice that possesses more bass texture than the typical tenor, Kaufmann sounds as if he would fare even better as a baritone, as many a critic has suggested. His very high notes are not as clear and sustained in tonality as, for instance, those the great tenors like Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti can sing. Still, brushing aside a couple of very minor technical issues, Kaufmann channels undeniable charm in his singing, and listening to the entire CD is pure pleasure.

The deep, sheer strength of the singer’s voice would perhaps serve even better music that is very powerful in terms of sound level and dynamics, like Wagner’s for instance or Schubert’s Lieder, more than soft Italian and romantic French opera tunes.

The choice of the well-known 13 arias, actually some of the most interpreted in the entire operatic repertoire, is a double blessing for someone like Kaufmann. On one hand the selection is a guarantee to please, given the quality and the popularity of the music, on the other hand it unmistakably leads to comparison with all the legendary singers that have interpreted these pieces before. Such comparisons are not necessarily to the advantage of Kaufmann.

The orchestra accompanying Kaufmann is the Prague Philharmonic and it is conducted by Marco Armiliato. The orchestra does an excellent job but nothing outstanding; the stress is on Kaufmann’s voice and interpretation anyway. “Romantic Arias” is a CD produced and released by Decca, the prestigious classical label, known for its pristine, eclectic recordings.

There’s a video available online where Kaufmann introduces the CD and that shows nice excerpts from the recording. The video adds a visual element that obviously cannot be experienced merely playing back the audio disc; it is the charisma that Kaufmann is blessed with.

This element plays an important role in live performances.




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