Sunday Times, 3 February 2013
Although he sang Walther von Stolzing in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at Brian McMaster's last Edinburgh Festival concert in 2006, Jonas Kaufmann is not known as a Wagnerian. Of the scenes he sings here, only two, Siegmund in Die Walküre (the "Sword" monologue) and Lohengrin, are currently part of his active repertoire. With the wonderful Deutsche Oper orchestra and its British music director, Donald Runnicles, he sings here an original two-verse version of Lohengrin's In fernem Land (In a distant land), which probably hasn't been heard on disc since the 1930s. The opening is sung with a rapt, almost trance-like intensity, rising to thrilling climaxes. As Siegmund, his dark, baritonal timbre comes into its own. In Rienzi’s Prayer and Tannhäuser’s Roman narration, his Italianate timbre — surely what Wagner wanted — easily negotiates the bel canto turns and grace notes overlooked by burlier singers. His Siegfried in the forest sounds youthful, poetic and witty. Controversially, he sings the Wesendonck song cycle, designated "for a woman's voice", though the texts are gender-unspecific. No Wagner tenor sings Lieder with such musicianship, colour and sensitivity. With this glorious disc, Kaufmann sets a standard for our time.

 back top