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German tenor Jonas Kaufmann is acclaimed for his passionate interpretations of the great tenor roles in operas by Verdi and Wagner, Puccini and, yes, Massenet. But many of his fans do not realize he is equally passionate about the more introspective songs of Schubert and Schumann, Brahms and Hugo Wolf.
Kaufmann recently recorded Schubert's great song cycle Winterreise with pianist Helmut Deutsch on Sony Classical. The album, which is currently available at the Metropolitan Opera's online store, will be released nationwide on April 1.
This cycle of 24 settings of poems by Wilhelm Müller is generally regarded as the pinnacle of lieder singing, a sequence of songs as thrilling for listeners as it is for the performer.
Kaufmann says, "Against the background of all the horror stories that bombard us today, we are undoubtedly rather more hardened than Schubert's contemporaries, and yet even today's listeners can still find this cycle affecting."
"Even as interpreters, we always find ourselves sucked into the emotional undertow of these songs, although we know perfectly well what to expect," he continues. "I think that Winterreise has the same sort of cathartic effect as a Greek drama: The emotional experience purges the soul. On me, the work has an almost meditative effect because Schubert expressed these emotional depths with a clarity and simplicity that I ultimately find consoling and that allows me to regain my own inner balance."
Kaufmann has said, too, that he regards the classical lieder repertory as "the haute école of singing." It demands far more detailed work than any other vocal discipline--more color, more nuance, a greater range of dynamics and a subtle approach to the music and words.
Kaufmann and Deutsch recorded Winterreise in October 2013 at the August Everding Hall in Grünwald in Munich. Their recording documents the current state of a musical partnership that began many years ago at the Munich Academy of Music and Theatre.
Over the years, Deutsch and Kaufmann's initial teacher-pupil relationship has been transformed into a wonderful example of artistic communication, finding expression not only in the recording studio but also at countless song recitals.
In fact, Kaufmann and Deutsch are currently touring Europe with Winterreise. Their journey will take them from the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona to Geneva, Berlin, Graz, London, Paris, Prague and Moscow, ending at La Scala, Milan, on April 14.
For more information, visit jonaskaufmann.com.© 2016 The Classical Art, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.