The Sunday Times, February 23, 2014
Hugh Canning
ALBUM OF THE WEEK - Schubert, Winterreise
Even shelves heaving with Winter’s Journeys should find space for Kaufmann’s, which he is touring around Europe. (He visits the Royal Opera House on April 6.) This striking new version combines the vocal endowment of a heroic tenor such as Jon Vickers, the relish of the German text of a Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, and the heightened sense of drama captured by Brigitte Fassbaender on her controversial EMI (now Warner) recording, with the composer Aribert Reimann as her pianist. Certainly Kaufmann’s Schubert can be “operatic”: his final note in the last song, Der Leiermann, swells into a cry of anguish, rather than fading into resigned acceptance of death. But there is sensibility and even charm here — the lilt in his voice in Frühlingstraum (Spring’s Dream), the breathless anticipation of The Post — as well as weariness (Rast), loneliness (Einsamkeit) and disillusionment (Täuschung). Few tenor versions of this great cycle are sung with such depth of tone, so wide a spectrum of colours or such a poetic a response to Müller’s texts. In Deutsch, Kaufmann has an ideal travelling companion. He tells us as much about Schubert’s state of mind when he wrote what he described to his friends as “terrifying” songs as Kaufmann does.

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