The Scotsman, 18. August 2003
James Allen
Schubert: Die Winterreise, Edinburgh, 16 August 2003
Jonas Kaufmann and Helmut Deutsch
Queen's Hall
WHETHER or not Schubert’s Winterreise is the greatest song cycle, it is certainly the one by which many a tenor is judged. Singers return again and again to this work in their careers and tenor Jonas Kaufmann will doubtless wish to probe it more deeply and build upon the distinctive imprint he put on the work in this recital.

Kaufmann’s voice has grown in the last year. Rich, baritonal depths have developed and his middle range is more nuanced. Though it occasionally needed more support, his Romantic, rather than expressionistic, interpretation of the work was, overall, technically well catered for.

There was a sense, in Kaufmann’s performance, of oscillating more and more widely around an unbearable melancholic gloom before collapsing with exhaustion, rather than progressing linearly through the work. It was as if bad thoughts kept bouncing back at him, hindering forward progress and gnawing away at his soul.

I liked the way he reined in his voice to suggest the wintriness of the heart and pianist Helmut Deutsch’s handling of nature and the elements in the accompaniment. There is some way to go before Kaufmann inhabits this cycle more fully, but it will be interesting to hear that happen.

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