Jonas Kaufmann’s new record is a stonking…

Jonas Kaufmann’s new record is a stonking…


norman lebrecht

March 17, 2017

… disaster.

Or, as I put it in the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

This is one of those treasurable major-label releases, made with the best of intentions, in which everything turns out wrong.

Read the full review here. 

And here.


And here.


  • Olassus says:

    Ah, yeah, Jonathan Nott, the Lamborghini-driving maestro … .

    Say no more.

    • Theodore McGuiver says:

      Why do you dislike him so much?

    • David says:

      Yet Nott and Kaufman are the ones with right successful careers.
      What’s a malcontent to do?! Shout from the roof tops, above
      the sound of axes grinding, ‘if I can’t have a career, why should they’?
      Oh dear…the way of the envious is indeed hard.

  • Phyllis Stringer says:

    What is wrong with Bernstein Mahler 4 with boy soloist?

    • Dan P. says:

      I’ve heard the Bernstein Mahler 4. Since the text depicts a child’s view of heaven one can understand the thought of assigning the solo to a child. BUT, the reality is that the vocal part demands the technique of a mature, trained, adult soprano, which this kid understandably does not have. It’s really painful to listen to and I feel sorry for the youngster who was put in this position. Many years later, I’m sure this is not something he owns up to.

        • Dan P. says:

          Actually, Allan Bergius – in the article you cite – sang it with the Vienna Philharmonic. It said that he had quite the career as a boy soprano and later became a cellist and conductor.

          After looking it up, the fellow who sang it in Bernstein’s recording with the Concertgebouw – the recording I heard – was a fellow named Helmut Wittek. I just listened to it again, and there is no need to be unkind. He certainly gives it everything he has and it’s really nice in spots, but it’s also pretty hooty sounding in places where he just doesn’t have the breath support and stamina where he needs it. He must have been a very good musician at that age. It’s just that there just are things one can’t do physically at that age. Mahler comes later.

          • Andreas B. says:

            you are quite right, there were different boys on different occasions singing the part. my mistake.

            this seems to suggest however, that Bernstein must have been quite convinced by a boy’s voice for that particular movement.

            at least this gives us some interesting material to compare, whatever one’s personal opinion.

            (as in the Bernstein recording of Saint-Saens’ ‘Swan’ – played by Gary Karr on the double bass …)

          • Dan P. says:

            I can understand why he did it: the text describes a child’s view of heaven. And there is nothing wrong with trying different things to compare, no matter what one thinks of the result. And, as I said there were some nice things in it among the things that were problematic.

            Andreas – My only real objection (and this is just based on my own experience accompanying singers) is that giving young singers stuff to sing that’s beyond their technical abilities can have a bad effect on their voices should they want to continue singing as an adult.

            I remember playing for auditions years ago when a high school girl came in with Puccini and you could already hear vocal problems in her lower register from having had to compensate for the things she didn’t yet have the technique or maturity to do. Same thing with gifted young pianists who play certain heavy Prokofiev and Rachmaninoff pieces that take muscles they don’t yet have. They end up with hand problems because they have to rely for so long on forcing their fingers to do things their muscles weren’t ready to do. I’ve seen that all too many times.

            As for boy singers, one also has to realize that in Bach’s day, puberty didn’t occur until much later due to the state of nutrition at the time – at least from everything I’ve read on the subject – so they could sing soprano cantata arias when they were much older and had more training. They weren’t 11 years old.

        • David Osborne says:

          Had never heard of this, but wasn’t hard to find and for a live performance not bad at all, a trifle shaky in the middle register at the start perhaps but otherwise… The thing for me is that this is the sort risk taking that should be encouraged because as others have commented, it makes sense given the text. In that way, theres a clear difference between a boy singing Mahler 4 and a tenor singing all of Das Lied which makes no sense at all.

    • David Boxwell says:

      Not when a kid named Mako Emanuel Cencic sings it (Anton Nanut, RSO Ljubljana, various budget labels). He’s an Infant Phenomenon!

  • Ungeheuer says:

    Too bad but just what I suspected. What is wrong with Mahler’s 4th with boy soloist? The answer is: Leontyne Price’s “Knoxville: Summer of 1915”, the one with the faked boy soloist vocals. Some tenor recording consolation here:
    Johan Botha’s “new” compilation coming out 7 April.

  • Dan P. says:

    Not only does Das Lied von der Erde require two widely different vocal types to carry different kinds of music, but it also takes TWO types of tenor (or a tenor who is flexible enough) to carry off both the stentorian first movement where he has to carry over a very loud orchestra and the more intimate chamber music-like tenor movements that follow.

  • Pedro says:

    I was at the Paris concert and Kaufmann was worst than Nott. Regarding Bernstein Mahler 4, I attended a Vienna Phil. performance with a young boy back in 1984 and I mainly remember an extraordinary slow movement.

  • Gustav says:

    We knew it was going to be bad. My grandmother could sing better and she’s dead.

  • Olassus says:

    For those expecting a Jonas Otello this summer, don’t hold your breath. When the Madelon outsings the Chénier, as she did this evening in the house, despite fine fine work from JK, it’s time to rethink. Can’t do Otello ingolato and ohne squillo. No, no, no.

  • mannail888 says:

    The vocal production is as throaty as it’s guttural, with distinctive register breaks. Notes off the stave are squeezed out without any build-up and in many sequence smudged. Legato is as abundant as rainfall in Sahara. Stylistically, he’s all over the place in addition to the fact that he is channeling his inner Renee Fleming in that every word, every sentence is fussed and tweaked to the extent that any sense of spontaneity is lost. Those comparison to the legendary Jon Vickers by certain so-called critics is simply preposterous. The Canadian’s voice is naturally produced and is deployed with the greatest artistry, whereas the voice of “the most gorgeous thing on the lyric stage today” (so claimed by thousands and thousands of queens around the globe) is weirdly produced, sounding synthetic and grating.