Jonas Kaufmann / Claudio Abbado / Mahler Chamber Orchestra

Jonas Kaufmann Sings Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven & Wagner

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Tenor Jonas Kaufmann is determined not to let himself be pigeonholed, as is evident in the diversity of his repertoire, which not only spans musical eras, but stretches into roles associated with a variety of vocal types, from Mozart to Massenet, Puccini, and Wagner. Usually classified as a spinto, Kaufmann's tenor has a sometimes surprisingly baritonal quality that would seem to make him an ideal candidate for Wagner, to whom half of this disc of German operatic arias is devoted. The results are not entirely consistent, but Kaufmann generally fulfills the expectation that he may develop into a first-rate heldentenor. He is most successful in a wonderfully lyrical "Winterstürme," and in two extended excerpts from Parsifal, where he cuts loose with thrilling power. In the program notes, he writes that he considers Lohengrin Wagner's most Italianate role and tries to bring to it a typically bel canto lyricism. In the quieter passages, particularly in "Mein liebe Schwan!," though, his voice tends to sound reined-in and loses some power when he lowers the volume. The vocal strength and depth he brings to the repertoire usually taken by lighter tenors, such as the Zauberflöte excerpts, requires a moment of adjustment on the listener's part, but offers a refreshing take on the roles. He brings dramatic intensity to "Gott! Welch Dunkel hier!" from Fidelio. Two rarities are arias from Schubert's Fierabras and Alfonso and Estrella, but Kaufmann's voice occasionally sounds somewhat covered. Kaufmann receives top-notch support from Claudio Abbado, who leads the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in exceptionally sensitive and shapely accompaniments. Decca's sound is clean and clear, but the voice gets swamped by the orchestra in a few of the louder passages.

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