The Observer, 7 November 2010
Stephen Pritchard
Schubert: Die schöne Müllerin, London, Wigmore Hall, 31 October 2010
Jonas Kaufmann  Wigmore Hall

In the five years since he last sang lieder in London, the tenor Jonas Kaufmann has become an international star, gaining a reputation as the Wagnerian of the moment, so his appearance at the Wigmore Hall was eagerly awaited, not just because he has a wondrous voice but because a recital is the supreme test of any artist; stripped of operatic trappings, a singer is totally exposed.  

But exposed or not, you still have a job to do: tell a story. And what a story-teller we had in Kaufmann. He's 40, yet still managed to convince us he was the naive apprentice of Schubert's song-cycle, Die schöne Müllerin, his bright optimism darkening to dissolution and despair as his rejection by his boss's daughter propels him towards an absurdly romantic death.  

Kaufmann has an astonishing voice: rich and round as a baritone's in the lower register, yet able to fly with ease to sweet, mellifluous, heart-stopping heights, as in the closing lines of both "Am Feierabend" and "Der Neugierige". That same ability to sustain the smallest thread of pianissimo cast a chilling spell when, in "Die liebe Farbe", he shrouded his voice to sing of death while the superb Helmut Deutsch kept the millwheel turning in his beautifully sensitive, many-coloured accompaniment. A magical partnership.


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