Romantic Song by Schubert, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Grieg, Liszt, R Schumann, R Strauss, Zemlinsky, Brahms, Mozart, Mahler, Bohm and Wolf
Jonas Kaufmann (tenor), Helmut Deutsch (piano)
Sony Classical 19439783262 65:36 mins
Lockdown generated many recordings of variable quality, including much recorded in homes. But despite this recording’s coy claim that it was recorded in a private space, the artists clearly had superb technological support, with the resultant sound glossy, pin-sharp and perfectly balanced.
Jonas Kaufmann and Helmut Deutsch have compiled a selection of unchallenging favourites from the wider song repertoire. It’s a self-confessed album of encores, a series of lollipops best enjoyed in small doses. When it comes to repertoire, they speak of ‘smuggling in’ Zemlinsky; some rarities are included, but it’s a pity that not one is by a woman.
The result is studded with performances heroic and tender. Kaufmann shows his outstanding dynamic and expressive range, from a close-miked, intimate whisper to gloriously powerful, full-throttle sound. Occasionally the voice threatens to burst the music’s boundaries, for example the overblown ending of Mendelssohn’s ‘Auf Flügeln des Gesanges’, but the singing is mostly magnificent and impressive, with especially beautiful singing in Strauss’s ‘Allerseelen’ and Mendelssohn’s ‘Gruss’.
Deutsch’s playing, despite his experience and a long working relationship with Kaufmann, is serviceable but often sounds prosaic and leaden. When he finds the right sound, as in Schubert’s lovely ‘Der Jüngling an der Quelle’, the result is delightful. With no translations or informative liner note, this recital is designed to delight committed fans of Kaufmann and Deutsch, which it certainly will.