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Jonas Kaufmann - Schubert: Winterreise / Opera News review

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This is a gem of a performance, but one that bucks current trends. The bleak nature of Schubert's Winterreise, with two-thirds of its songs in minor keys, is often taken as an invitation to probe, analyze and even diagnose its protagonist. In the final song, "Der Leiermann" (The Hurdy-gurdy Man), the traveler, totally undone, will wind up identifying with the village idiot, a fate treated so indelibly by Schubert that it colors the whole cycle. Understandably, many singers are apt to seek clues to that decline earlier, even in the very first songs, and to keep emphasizing eccentricity, instability and other predictive symptoms.

That is not Jonas Kaufmann's approach. Here, each step downward feels like an unexpected blow. His traveler resists, protests and struggles, at higher volume than many others. The performance maintains an urgent pulse throughout, amid rich rubato, with rock-solid support from veteran accompanist Helmut Deutsch. The singer's unusual warmth maintains tension between past and present: his timbre suggests a robust, somewhat naïve young man who's new to morbid reflection. READ THE FULL Opera News REVIEW.