Jonas Kaufmann / Orchester Der Deutschen Oper Berlin / Donald Runnicles


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German tenor Jonas Kaufmann is among the more versatile of today's singers, with a recorded catalog that stretches from later Italian opera to French works and even Schubert songs. This release suggests, however, that Wagner is his true métier. A Wagner greatest-hits album isn't really possible given the nature of his work, but this could work well as a collection of Wagner selections: it includes excerpts from works from the early Rienzi up to the "Ring" cycle, with an orchestral version of the Wesendonck-Lieder song cycle to bring down the curtain. And Kaufmann solidly grasps the different musical idioms; "Allmächtiger Vater, blick herab!" (Almighty Father, look down!), from Rienzi, is close to a conventional aria, while the selections from Die Walküre and Siegfried consist of a sort of dialogic melody, carried out at perilously high pitches over long stretches of music. Kaufmann has the power to pull off the high notes without a trace of distortion or loss of the thread of the action, and equally to excel in the less athletic idiom of the songs. He gets able support from the Orchestra of the German Opera Berlin under Donald Runnicles. Recommended for all levels of Wagner listeners.

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