Is Jonas Kaufmann really an exceptional tenor?

92 posts / 0 new
Last post
RE: Is Jonas Kaufmann really an exceptional tenor?

I can understand your reasoning. Thank you for the explanation.

A music lover currently living in the middle of nowhere. 

RE: Is Jonas Kaufmann really an exceptional tenor?

Does anyone know if male voices develop a wobble like female voices do when they are abused/overused? This is kind of off-topic, but that thought suddenly occured to me in connection with being ready for a part. 

A music lover currently living in the middle of nowhere. 

RE: Is Jonas Kaufmann really an exceptional tenor?

I've just been listening to Sehnsucht on Kauffman's Strauss disc for Harmonia Mundi. Overall, I like the voice. However, he seems to have a bit of a problem when transitioning from his middle notes to high notes. The best way I can describe it is the impression that you can hear him going from one gear to the next. What I mean is that the transition isn't seamless and smooth. Since this is an early disc, maybe his technique has improved since then. Any thoughts?

A music lover currently living in the middle of nowhere. 

RE: Is Jonas Kaufmann really an exceptional tenor?

You start spotting some aspects of his voice that should not be touched upon. The guy is a bit far from perfect, though quite good for today's standards.

Personally, I don't think he can tackle any Wagnerian role at the level of some illustrious predecessors, even in ten years. However, his tone might be better than the otherwise great Windgassen. He can never sound even close to Vickers or Konya.

I really wish to see what kind of stamina he has for Weber' s subtly demanding roles.

Parla

RE: Is Jonas Kaufmann really an exceptional tenor?

parisboy42 wrote:

Does anyone know if male voices develop a wobble like female voices do when they are abused/overused? This is kind of off-topic, but that thought suddenly occured to me in connection with being ready for a part. 

It's absolutely on-topic, Parisboy, and a very interesting subject. And yes, male voices certainly can develop wobble in just the same way as their female counterparts. As a general rule of thumb, the more solid and secure the singer's technique is, the less prone to wobble he or she will be, though age and nature play significant parts as the singing mechanism becomes less elastic and responsive. This often manifests itself in a sort of slow, steady beat in the voice on sustained notes, and can often be exaggerated by recording.

Samuel Ramey is an example of a modern singer with an immaculate technique, but in some of his later appearances and recording (try, for instance, his Naxos recital) the beat in the voice has been very prominent indeed. Going back a bit, the last recordings of Lawrence Tibbett show what abuse and overuse can do to a voice in this context. They do not make pleasant listening, but I think illustrate the point.

I certainly detect not the slightest hint of anything to give concern about Kaufmann, whose technique appears rock solid to me. There are very few dramatic tenors I can think of who are as able to sing such wonderfully floated pianissimi. No guarantee, of course, but things look very promising, to say the least.

The point you make about equalisation of the registers is, of course, something that's the goal of every singer and singing teacher there's ever been. Some voices are absolutely seamless (Bjorling, for example) whilst the break in others is more obvious (for my money Pavarotti, though not all agree). I think with heavier voices, such as Kaufmann's, it can seem emphasised because of the contrast between the 'baritonal' weight of the bottom of the voice and the more brilliant tenor top.

 

JKH

RE: Is Jonas Kaufmann really an exceptional tenor?

Unfortunately the answer is yes.... it is heartbreaking to hear the once great Wotan - James Morris - who is now singing much smaller roles at the MET, and the tremendous wobble in his voice when he has to sustain a line.... 

RE: Is Jonas Kaufmann really an exceptional tenor?

parisboy42 wrote:

Does anyone know if male voices develop a wobble like female voices do when they are abused/overused?

Ramey and Hampson are in a sad state these days.

RE: Is Jonas Kaufmann really an exceptional tenor?

tagalie wrote:

parisboy42 wrote:

Does anyone know if male voices develop a wobble like female voices do when they are abused/overused?

Ramey and Hampson are in a sad state these days.

Indeed they are. With  Ramey I think it is, as I say, age taking its toll. With Hampson (by whom I've never been convinced in anything) I've always thought he was trying to put artificial weight on his voice and trying to imitate a big Verdi baritone sound. It may be that this is a contributory factor to his rather early decline.

JKH

RE: Is Jonas Kaufmann really an exceptional tenor?

That being said, he sounds convincing when singing the Mahler lieder from Des Knaben Wunderhorn. That is my only recording of his other than his Lied von der Erde under Rattle with the CBSO. He doesn't seem to be putting excessive weight on his voice in these recordings. His tone is on the contrary light and appropriate for the lieder, his phrasing elegant and in good taste. These recordings are from this 1990s however. I haven't kept up with his development of his voice lately. 

A music lover currently living in the middle of nowhere. 

RE: Is Jonas Kaufmann really an exceptional tenor?

I take your point, Parisboy. I should have made clear that it was mainly his operatic work that I was thinking of. I'll dig out some of his other non-operatic work, including the Mahler you mention, to see whether I'm still of the same opinion. It's been a while since I've played anything of his.

JKH

Pages

Log in or register to post comments

Gramophone Subscriptions

From£67/year

Gramophone Print

Gramophone Print

no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe
From£67/year

Gramophone Reviews

Gramophone Reviews

no Print Edition
no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe
From£67/year

Gramophone Digital Edition

Gramophone Digital Edition

no Print Edition
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe

If you are a library, university or other organisation that would be interested in an institutional subscription to Gramophone please click here for further information.

© MA Business and Leisure Ltd. 2019