Financial Times, 31.3.2022
Richard Fairman
Liederabend, London, 29.3.2022
Kaufmann and Damrau luxuriate in Lieder
The day before, Jonas Kaufmann and Diana Damrau returned to the Barbican for one of their duo recitals. Star pulling-power meant the hall looked fuller than it has since lockdown, and an enthusiastic audience was rewarded with a generous programme.

The pair’s previous visit in 2018 was for a complete performance of Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch. A selection of love songs by Schumann and Brahms this time looked less promising, but with some high-quality singing and less of the irritating play-acting, it turned out the more rewarding.

Two opera singers are not always so adept at song. Kaufmann’s straightforward style is familiar now, the clarity of the words and lack of intrusive interpretation coming across as distinct virtues. He was especially fine here at the long line, patiently building to climaxes of power and smouldering tone, as in Schumann’s “Stille Tränen”.

Damrau did not start so well, sounding intermittently thin or wobbly, but her voice settled and she went on to some delightfully characterful lighter songs. A bonus this time was duets by both composers, generally less well known, plus some others turned into duets, such as Brahms’s “Von ewiger Liebe” (not ideal, but these are not the first singers to do so).

Nothing should obscure the masterclass in accompanying that Helmut Deutsch gave at the piano, expertly sifting the more dense romantic textures. This was part of a European tour and six venues are still to come, from Paris to Vienna via Germany and Spain.

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