The Australian, March 16, 2013
Mark Coughlan
Wagner (Jonas Kaufmann)
RATING: 5 stars
WITH this outstanding album, Jonas Kaufmann could well be staking a claim to be the greatest living Wagnerian tenor.

In his selection of arias from Die Walkure, Siegfried, Rienzi, Tannhauser, Meistersinger and Lohengrin, he tackles some of the most challenging vocal works and dispatches them with an astonishing degree of vocal and musical command.

Naturally, the climaxes demand huge power and the ability to cut through blaring orchestral tuttis, but there are also moments of great delicacy, introspection and intimacy requiring absolute control of breath and tone colour. In every challenge Kaufmann's mastery is complete.

The competitive aspect of singing this repertoire is not lost on him. In the program notes he speaks of Lauritz Melchior's legendary top notes in Siegmund's Sword Monologue and in the recording gives a spectacular 10-second burst of full-voiced power on both of these anguished cries.

Even as he finally winds down the climactic moment, we are left with the feeling he could have gone on forever; there is never a hint of strain or the sense that Kaufmann approaches his limits anywhere in this album.

For one who can sing with such shattering intensity, his finesse in passages of gentle lyricism is even more telling. In the Wesendonck Lieder (written for female voice) Kaufmann creates delicate, soft colours and an impeccable long line, leaving us feeling he can, in fact, do anything with his remarkable voice.

Donald Runnicles and the Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin often excellent support throughout. Highly recommended.

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