Evening Standard, 22 April 2013
Barry Millington
Konzert, Royal Festival Hall, London, 21. April 2013
Jonas Kaufmann, Festival Hall - music review - Triumph of the tenor king: Jonas Kaufmann
Described as the Wagner tenor we've all been waiting for, Jonas Kaufmann's unimpeachable artistry carried the day
He's been described as the Wagner tenor we've all been waiting for. And for once the hype is justified. Jonas Kaufmann, currently the world's most sought-after tenor, demonstrated in this programme devoted to the two bicentenary composers, Wagner and Verdi, that he has everything.

He’s not an orthodox Heldentenor and perhaps all the better for it. Rather he combines Germanic expressive weight and Lieder-like sensitivity to the text with Italianate lyricism. The golden tone fused with musical intelligence of the highest order is a winning combination. He frequently uses a mezza voce (half voice) to great effect, modulating smoothly through the dynamic range to a thrilling forte.

The alternated Verdian arias and overtures (from Luisa Miller, Simon Boccanegra, La Traviata, Don Carlo, La Forza del Destino and Nabucco) in the first half and Wagnerian bleeding chunks plus orchestral items (Die Walküre, Meistersinger and Parsifal) in the second — did we really deserve the Ride of the Valkyries? — left something to be desired. So too did the expensively glossy printed programme, crammed with soulful pictures of the photogenic tenor and detailed synopses we didn’t need but lacking the texts we did.

Of better quality was the fine playing of the Philharmonia Orchestra (with one stunning clarinet solo by Andrew Marriner) under the admirable Jochen Rieder.

Yet Kaufmann’s unimpeachable artistry carried the day — right through to the last of four encores (from Verdi’s Macbeth), in which he summoned once again the engaging energy and ringing tone that had been evident in the opening item.

For the sake of his legions of admirers, one hopes Kaufmann is pacing himself sensibly. His talent is too rare to squander.

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