With concert halls, studios and airports closed the pandemic has forced Jonas Kauffman to downsize from belts and braces Otello and sumptuous Viennese tributes to something smaller and closer to home. So, he got in touch with his old mate pianist Helmut Deutsch and suggested they make a welcome return to their neglected Lieder repertoire. They put together a running order – “It’s our own personal wish list, you might call it an album of encores,” Kaufmann says.

Album artwork

It had to be recorded in intimate private surroundings, which turned out to be a blessing – “You’re closer to the zeitgeist of these pieces”, he says. The pair picked 27 songs, mostly familiar favourites but with one or two rarities, including Alexander Zemlinsky’s Selige Stunde (An Hour of Bliss) and Alois Melichar’s arrangement of Chopin’s Etude Op 10 No.3.

Kaufmann and Deutsch bounce like precisely synchronised trampolinists on Schubert’s Der Musensohn, which opens the disc. And they manage a spacious sotto voce sense of wonder for Gustav Mahler’s Ich Bin der Welt Abhanden Gekommen(I Am Lost to the World) to finish this lovely collection, most of which is on the gentler side, allowing the listener to enjoy Kaufmann’s subtle nuances. Deutsch, predictably, never puts a foot wrong.

Their collaboration – like a marriage, they both say – goes back 30 years to when Deutsch was Kaufmann’s lieder professor in Munich. It’s a privilege to share in this special relationship. This is the ideal companion for lovers together in lockdown, or apart and waiting to be reunited.

Title: Selige Stunde
Works: Romantic Songs
Performers: Jonas Kaufmann t, Helmut Deutsch p
Label: Sony B08BGBM4Y5

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