Thursday, March 20, 2008
Jonas Kaufmann: The Whole Package?
Jonas Kaufmann: Romantic Arias (Decca)
Here's a voice we'll be hearing for a while. The brief back story of this handsome young German tenor is interesting: he was trained as a light tenor, and by good fortune was allowed to liberate the drama of the lower and richer tones which he says were what he used " in the shower or the elevator."
So his career is a product of a very personal drive which he reveals in his choice of repertoire and his intensely dramatic presentation The arias on his calling-card disc are a mixture of the usual and the slightly less so.
He opens with a full-throated run-through of "Che gelida manina" from La Boheme, and then he takes an abrupt left turn into French opera: Bizet, very idiomatic, with a minor but gorgeously-sung aria from Carmen, turning at last to his home tongue with the show-stopper and only hit from Flotow's Martha -- which he nails as well as Siegfried Jerusalem did in the recent past.
So we get him as eclectic, fluent in various languages and styles -- dare we say Post Modern? An artist who brings as much sensibility and style to Wagner as he does to Massenet. His lyric gifts also enhance an affinity with Italian Opera. Verdi is in his soul, and he did begin his debut disc with an emotive Puccini.
Highlights of this disc include an aria from Don Carlos, the 5 minutes of glorious Wagner, and especially a Berlioz aria from The Damnation of Faust, sung with Wagnerian greatness of soul.
The proof is in the Opera House performance, of course. So we will have to see him. Is he the real thing or the product of the electronics of the recording medium? I suspect he's the whole package, relying on field reviews of his performances. Can't wait to see him in person!
Although the disc is nothing but a collection of snippets, there is something to enjoy in most of these performances, not least the conducting of Marco Armiliano, whose accompaniment matches Kaufmann's eclecticity with stylish performances in a variety of styles. The two artists seem to be on the same wavelength, and the result is a very satisfying CD. It's ipod ready since almost every cut is a keeper: just rip and burn!