EdinburghGuide, 15 August 2001
Philip Sawyer
Schumann: Four songs from Opus 35 and Dichterliebe Opus 48; Liszt: Three Petrarch Sonnets (1838 versions); Richard Strauss: Six songs
Song and Piano Recital
Queen's Hall
This concert had the making of, and delivered a real treat: a tenor with real intelligence and a burgeoning reputation, and an established pianist with a background in composition and musicology. Here was good programme-planning; here was real music-making; here was a real chamber music experience.

The recital began with four of Schumann's Opus 35 songs, dating from 1840, the year of his marriage to Clara Wieck. These gradually revealed the range of Kaufmann's voice and the considerable pianistic skills of Deutsch. By the end of the fourth song the audience was fully engaged. Then followed Schumann's Dichterliebe, another product of 1840. Here, in this justly famous song-cycle, Kaufmann became the story-teller, never allowing the music to become too dramatic and using subtle body-language to underscore certain songs. Schumann's art is that of a pianist turned composer; in the piano writing of his songs is found not only the singer's line but also a musical commentary to the text. Deutsch revealed facets of the piano part that many performances leave unexplored and used an enormous range of colour and expressive rubato to complement Kaufmann's lines.

After the interval this spectacular pair of musicians performed three Petrarch Sonnets by Liszt, in the early versions, dating from 1838, and six songs by Richard Strauss. The Liszt gave Kaufmann the opportunity to show of his almost Helden-Tenor qualities and showed Deutsch to be a pianist of no little virtuosity; the range of the vocal part is extraordinary and the piano part is 'orchestral'. The audience was taken into a different world of experience, almost that that of Italian opera. The Strauss songs returned to German Romanticism and were a beautifully-performed reminder of just how much Strauss's music (he lived well into the 20th century) relies on the early German Romantic world of Schumann.

It is a pity that these Queen's Hall recitals are heard only once. The Kaufmann/Deutsch recital was worthy, for a number of very good reasons, of being heard live by a much wider audience.

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