New CD: Schubert’s Winterreise: Jonas Kaufmann

Written By The Wagnerian on Wednesday, 5 February 2014 | 8:38:00 am

To be released 25 February 2014. Below is the official release information from Kaufmann's website. 

However much he loves opera, Kaufmann (says) he cannot live without lieder. For the German tenor, interpreting the classical lieder repertory is “the haute école of singing”. It demands far more detailed work than any other vocal discipline, more colour, more nuances, a greater range of dynamics and a more subtle approach to the music and words.

And if there is an acid test for any lieder singer, it is undoubtedly Schubert’s Winterreise, a cycle of twenty-four settings of poems by Wilhelm Müller that is generally regarded as the pinnacle of lieder singing, a sequence of songs as thrilling for listeners as it is for the performer. “

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,” Kaufmann describes his experience of the work. “Even as interpreters we always find ourselves sucked into the emotional undertow of these songs, although we know perfectly well what to expect. 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 clarity and simplicity that I ultimately find consoling and that allows me to regain my own inner balance.”

After working together closely for many years and giving a number of recitals of Schubert’s great song cycles, Jonas Kaufmann and Helmut Deutsch have now made their first recording of Winterreise. The recording was made in October last year in the August Everding Hall in Grünwald in Munich and documents the current state of a very special partnership that began many years ago at the Munich Academy of Music and Theatre. Over the years the initial teacher-pupil relationship has been transformed into a wonderful example of artistic communication that has found expression not only in the recording studio but also at countless song recitals, most notably at the Metropolitan Opera in New York on 30 October 2011, the first solo recital heard at the Met since Luciano Pavarotti’s recital in 1994. The performance was greeted with the sort of acclaim that is normally reserved for a major operatic concert.

Jonas Kaufmann and Helmut Deutsch will make their Carnegie Hall recital début on 20 February, before going on tour with Winterreise, starting on 28 March. 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 14 April 2014.