Jonas Kaufmann ends US tour with 9 encores

Jonas Kaufmann ends US tour with 9 encores


norman lebrecht

October 26, 2021

A review of his closing recital at Berkeley on Sunday from Seen & Heard:

Nine encores. Perhaps that’s the best way to summarize how Jonas Kaufmann delivered an object lesson on galvanizing an audience in his recital Sunday afternoon in Zellerbach Hall. In each of the 22 songs on the printed program, he lavished his pliant tenor on every nuance, bursting with power one moment, shrinking to poignant intimacy the next.

And there wasn’t an aria in the bunch. All of the songs, he told the audience at the beginning, were favorites of his and his longtime piano partner, Helmut Deutsch. …

Read on here.




  • henry williams says:

    he could sing the telephone directory
    and it would sound beautiful.

    • A.L. says:

      Except that true singing is not just about sounding beautiful. For true singing is acting through vocal means.

      Alex Ross here on Kaufmann (and Spyres):

      • Maria says:

        But you do need the voice to start with and a beautiful voice like his is a more than a good start! Yes, if he sang the phone book or the shipping forecast, it would be beautiful and intelligently sung.

      • Helen says:

        I do not agree with the critic in theNew Yorker. There is no other tenor today that moves as much as Kaufmann. To say that he doesn’t give his all is downright ridiculous. The first time I saw JK I was completely overwhelmed by a truly visceral and heartbreaking performance as Don Jose. I have followed his career ever since. As well as the gorgeous unique voice he has huge charisma on stage. You cannot take your eyes off him. He has given me so much joy over the years. I love him for that.

    • He never makes an ugly sound. For people inspired to round out their Lied collections, I’d recommend:

      Strauss – Kaufmann, Deutsch (2005) – Harmonia Mundi HMC 901879

      Brahms – Magelone-Romanzen – Gerhaher, Walser, Huber (2014) with needed Zwischentexte – Sony 88985311022 (asin B01NA7L2AN), 2CDs, not the U.S. edition

      Dvořák – Cypřiše (complete) – Breslik, Pechanec (2016) – Supraphon SU 4215-2

  • Cynical Bystander says:

    A more measured assessment from Alex Ross in the New Yorker.

    • You don’t get through Act III of Tristan on “generalized glamour … disconnected from the music at hand.”

    • Anon says:

      Not that I don’t agree with Ross in this case—I do to an extent. But I can’t ever take him seriously again, at least in his appraisals of active performers, after that article he wrote on Igor Levit.

  • Bloom says:

    If after a definitive ,,Ich bin der Welt ..” one feels like delivering/asking for 9 encores, there s a problem. It s true, at the same time, that the telephone book contains plenty of charmingly definitive stuff as well.

  • Bloom says:

    Alex Ross, in yesterday s New Yorker review , explains very comprehensively how this thing is possible: how one can sing,,Ich bin Der Welt…”, a Brahms lullaby, some operetta , ,,Jingle bells” and the telephone book in the same , equally successful, charming fashion .

  • Alank says:

    We were at the DC recital. Despite the ubiquitous and intruding presence of the Face Mask Stasi and some idiots taking selfies, this was a remarkable performance of great artistry. The Mahler was incomparable!

  • Mock Mahler says:

    It was a lovely recital, but the encores were an extreme example of applause-milking. Leave the stage, wait, come out, bow, leave the stage, wait, come out, bow, leave the stage, wait, come out, sing one (short) piece, leave the stage, wait, come out, bow, leave the stage, wait, come out, bow, leave the stage, wait, come out, sing one (short) piece, leave the stage, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.

    I fondly remembered Horowitz, who would come back out, play three substantial encores without trotting off between them, then leave.

    • M2N2K says:

      That is an unfair and irrelevant comparison: notwithstanding my admiration of Vladimir Horowitz, I do believe that a person’s voice, after performing 22 programmed songs, may indeed need a bit more rest before each additional number than a person’s fingers might do at the end of a piano recital.

  • RW2013 says:

    Who ist this Ross person that everyone is quoting?
    And who cares?

    • Bloom says:

      An American critic who dared to write something different from 95% of his colleagues ( who follow a more popular trend and seem to be absolutely taken with Herr Kaufmann s sexy purring and crooning.)

      • Joe says:

        Good for you Bloom-“popular trend’ means one thing–lower standards.The critic Ross has indeed been around a long time,but we still need him badly.

  • Anonymous Bosch says:

    At one time – time past? – it was not unusual for a popular singer best known for opera to tilt the programme toward the encores.

    Montserrat Caballé used to give an annual recital at Carnegie Hall. The programmes were flimsy (one year she came onstage and announced they left the music at the airport and made up the recital as she went along) usually starting with a group of Vivaldi or Händel.

    But we always went for the encores, of which I scrawled lists in the programme booklets. I believe her record was 12. You never knew what you’d get – a zarzuela aria (she once accompanied herself on castanets and danced around the piano), anything from “O mio babbino caro” to a scena from an unknown Donizetti opera (or both), and one inevitability: what she called “Svees Song” – “Gsätzli” – which she interpolated into her farewell performances at Wiener Staatsoper as La Duchesse de Crackenthorp in “La fille du régiment”.

    I recall early 1970s recitals by singers such as Leontyne Price and Marilyn Horne who also gave relatively short programmes and then came back for encore after encore. It may no longer be fashionable but, damn, it was exciting!

  • margaret koscielny says:

    Amazing. People go to hear a wonderful singer, singing, and then, complain that he sang.

    Singers’ voices are so fragile. Be grateful, you can hear him in his prime.