Review by David Gregson.
Los Angeles Opera presents brilliant recital by German tenor Jonas Kaufmann.
Friday, March 11, 2011, at 7:30 p.m.
SINGER: tenor, Jonas Kaufman
PIANIST Helmut Deutsch
Quick! Before they are all gone — download or order a copy of this Strauss Lieder album on Harmonia Mundi and you will get some idea of what you missed if you were not in LA’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Friday night, March 11, for Los Angeles Opera’s presentation of the phenomenal German tenor Jonas Kaufmann and his superb collaborator pianist Helmut Deutsch in recital.
Kaufmann, certainly one of the most gifted and intelligent singers in the world today, enthralled his audience with a program that might have bored the pants off many people.
A whole evening of German lieder is most definitely not to most tastes – and yet from the adoring reaction of the audience, you might have mistaken them for the sort of people who only go crazy when hearing someone like Luciano Pavarotti singing “Nessun dorma.”
At the end of a concert which included the Strauss songs, plus Robert Schumann’s glorious “Dichterliebe” (just recently sung well although less thrillingly at the very same venue by the terrific German basso René Pape), the handsome, charismatic tenor answered calls for encore after encore – his lightest offering being "Dein ist mein ganzes Herz" from the operetta "Das Land des Lächelns" (The Land of Smiles) by Franz Lehar.
Kaufmann’s work is distinguished by superb diction and his apparent total immersion in the music and texts. He takes risks many other singers might avoid, and he is a canny judge of when to and when not to open up the full power of his Wagnerian tenor. In the course of an evening, he meaningfully explored every conceivable dynamic level of his vocal range. His beautiful tenor voice was forever under control. To put it somewhat romantically, it was a perfect musical fusion of head and heart. Kaufmann is always in the moment – and you are there with him.
I felt it was one of the finest vocal recitals I have ever experienced. And what a collaborator Kaufmann has in Deutsch, his musical soul mate!
As for the Los Angeles Opera – this was another hit in a brilliant trio of recent artistic successes which includes Benjamin Britten’s “The Turn of the Screw” and Rossini’s “Il Turco in Italia.”