Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Jonas Kaufmann at TCE: Kaufmannmania continues after one more Jonasabend

Jonas Kaufmann is a perfect example of an opera star circa 2010. He doesn't take himself too seriously, looks and acts like "one of us", but constantly impresses us by the sheer amount of talent he radiates like no one else. It's his peculiar timbre and recognizable voice, his unmatched musicality, his amazing scenic presence, uncommon interpretative skills, his piani that regularly make his fans go crackers... I don't believe any opera singer in the past had it all like Jonas does today.

Helmut Deutsch and Jonas Kauffmann: TCE, February 20 2011

A few years ago Jonas and Helmut Deutsch presented a recital at the Garnier Palace in Paris with the songs by R. Strauss, and to me that night remains the most beautiful Liederabend I've ever experienced.  Was it because the Strauss songs sit so well with his voice, or his chromatic timbre matches the moods of the verses... or I was particularly receptive?! Whatever the reason, to me that was the best Jonas concert ever.

After his memorable Schubert concert last year at Théâtre des Champs Élysées, there was no way for me to miss Jonas and Helmut last night, especially when I learned that a part of the program would be the Strauss Lieder.  They indeed gave us a few glimpses of the smashing recital from 2008 (or it was in 2009?!), to which they added the Rückert-Lieder by Mahler, and the  assorted songs by Duparc and Liszt. In detail:
Liszt: Vergiftet sind meine Lieder, Im Rhein, im schönen Strome, Freudvoll und leidvoll, Der König in Thule, Die Glocken von Marling, Die drei Zigeuner
Mahler (Rückert-Lieder):  Ich atmet’ einen linden Duft, Liebst du um Schönheit, Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder, Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen, Um Mitternacht
Duparc: L’Invitation au Voyage, Phidylé, Le Manoir de Rosamonde, Chanson triste, La vie antérieure
R. Strauss: Schlechtes Wetter, Schön sind, doch kalt die Himmelssterne, Befreit, Heimliche Aufforderung,  Morgen!, Caecilie

The Strauss part of this recital was again the best for me. You can find it on one of the Jonas' older CD's, that unfortunately passed almost unnoticed compared to the much more media-hyped and infinitely less interesting CD, Verismo.

The complicity between the pianist and Jonas was absolute during the Mahler Rückert Lieder, but the real treat came after the break with Duparc and especially with Strauss.

The electric atmosphere of the Théâtre des Champs Elysées --packed with 2,000 aficionados-- was the atmosphere of respect for the artists that in the second part you couldn't see annoying people checking their iPhones -- even those philistines understood an awesome talent is up there on the stage, and not in their text messages.
In the end there was a veritable explosion of bravos. Even that explosion was growing progressively, as if the people were returning from the emotional & contemplative voyage they were let on in by the performance of Jonas Kaufmann and Hemut Deutsch.

To that frenzy of ovations Jonas responded by SIX Leader as encore! How generous is that?!

Kaufmannmania seems to be hitting its highest point. How one can attend a concert like that and not admire this man for his talent and apparent simplicity?!

If you can possibly get the tics to see Jonas performing at a Liederabend ANYWHERE, don't miss that. CD is an OK substitute but it's incomparable with a live performance. So go and listen to Jonas singing these songs and your life will be richer for an unforgettable experience.

Incidentally Jonas will be back at TCE in less than a month, with the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Andris Nelsons.

Ah yes, do see a 15 min long film on this link!

Two Strauss songs by Kaufmann/Deutsch (Morgen! and Cäcilie):

See lyrics on the very well made Wiki-pages - Morgen! and Cäcilie


  1. He was in glorious voice, and gave 10 encores at the Philharmonie in Berlin last week (same program). Superb.

  2. Thank you for this review. I am experiencing the concert vicariously through you!

    Do you know by chance what the photograph in the first video is from? An opera production somewhere?

  3. 8 encores in Berlin ;-) but doesn't matter really.... afer the way he sang the Mahler or any of the songs in the main programme i could have walked away blissfully and feeling like i heared something really special :-) loved the intimacy, the sweet, soft, round pianis all throughout, the feeling of hearing a heartfelt confession almost , a moment of unique connection with not only one, but two wonderful artists! :-)

    1. You were in Berlin, H?!?!

      The main program was much more than adequate reward for the effort requited to attend in the middle of an appallingly busy schedule. I had foregone the Met recital in October for a number of reasons but was unable to do so in Berlin. Jonas is good but the 2nd half of the program was much the best of the 2. The encores was rather offensively generous. I was in a hurry, had to leave and decided to do so after the 2nd encore. I got up from my seat and prepared to do so but the acclaim was very enthusiastic and Jonas kept going. I was already out the door having already been more than satisfied but then came back. Someone had already snapped up my seat so I was forced to endure the remainder standing. (Luckily no wait for cab afterward - section E relatively close to exit.) Thus, Jonas' generosity gave rise to numerous logistical complications but on balance I was quite glad I staid for the whole thing.

      Definitely a can't miss.

  4. @Anonymous, photo on cover of Morgen video is from Bartered Bride/ Smetana, Frankfurt 2006 :-)

    1. Danke, Hericlea!