Tuesday 12 May 2009

Jonas Kaufmann liederabend: Unforgettable

Jonas Kaufmann, tenor. Helmut Deutsch, piano. Glyptoteket, Copenhagen. May 8th 2008.

This liederabend in the context of the series of Helge Jacobsen concerts marked German tenor Jonas Kaufmann´s first performance in Denmark, which took place in the intimate venue all of the New Carlsberg Glypotek.

Jonas Kaufmann is naturally confindent and authoritative on stage. He clearly commands the language, emphasizing expression over beauty, telling the stories, not just singing the songs. Vocally, he has never been better. A dark tenor, but fully in command of the high registers, often sung in piano or with added sprechgesang when required.

As an interpretist, Jonas Kaufmann is of the straight-forward as opposed to the wringing-sentimental type. And thanks for that. Not that he does not add to or give of himself in this selection of songs starting out with Schuberts rather long drama "Die Bürgschaft" to be followed by a completely superb Dichterliebe. Superbly suited to Richard Strauss´songs, already proven on his earlier (read: before he became famous) highly acclaimed disc of Richard Strauss lieder, he delievered completely smashing interpretations, culminating with Cäcilie. Can these songs be performed better? I really do not think so.

Malicious voices have it that Jonas Kaufmann is about looks rather than substance. Do not believe them. He has everything. Is Jonas Kaufmann not the preeminent tenor on stage today? Does these things matter? Of course they don´t. But really he is.

My only quibbles on this rather superb evening included free drinks in the New Carlsberg wintergarden are directed towards a couple of practical issues, such as having the audience loudly scrabbling through endless pages of text and the omission of the world-class accompanist Helmut Deutsch from the programme. Who by the way with his incisive playing was a major contributor to this rather unforgettable evening, which I believe will be one of the performances I will tell my grandchildren about 50 years from now: When I heard the great Jonas Kaufmann in his absolute prime. And they will answer: Ah, but why are there no tenors around like him today?

And why was this concert not sold out? Well, perhaps because it was hardly advertised anywhere? However, already now rumours has it Jonas Kaufmann will be back in Copenhagen in 2010. Do not miss it.


Die Bürgschaft
Schumann: Dichterliebe


Richard Strauss:

Fünf lieder op. 21:
All mein Gedanken..
Du mein herzens krönelein
Ach Lieb, ich muss nun scheiden
Ach weh mir unglückhaften Mann
Die Frauen sind oft fromm un still

Vier ausgewählte lieder:
Freundliche Vision
Ich liebe dich

Vier lieder op. 27:
Heimliche aufforderung
Ruhe meine Seele


The bottom line (scale of 1-5, 3=average):


Thursday 7 May 2009

Anna Russell: The Nibelungen Ring

Classical comedian Anna Russell´s analysis of the Nibelungen Ring has become almost legendary. Here from her (first) farewell tour in 1984:

Posted on YouTube by YvonneDesire

The Nibelungen Ring in 45 seconds

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