Wagner: Kaufmann Sings


Wagner: Kaufmann Sings concert. In May 2013, Christian Thielemann led the Staatskapelle Dresden and the Sächsischer Stattsopernchor Dresden at the Semperoper;  Jonas Kaufmann sang Wagner tenor scenes. The program:

  1. Hans Werner Henze: Fraternité (In honor of the death of Henze in October 2012)
  2. Wagner: Der fliegende Holländer: Overture
  3. Faust Overture, WWV59
  4. Rienzi: "Allmächt'ger Vater, blick herab!" (Rienzi's prayer)
  5. Lohengrin: Prelude to Act 1
  6. Lohengrin: "In fernem Land" (Grail narration)
  7. Tannhäuser: "Inbrunst im Herzen" (Rome narration)
  8. Tannhäuser: Overture (Entrance of the guests at the Wartburg)

You don't see the title "Wagner: Kaufmann Sings" on the keepcase cover. But that's the name C Major uses in their PR, so that's what we will call it for now. Directed for TV by Michael Beyer. Runs 117 minutes. Has subtitles in German, English, French, Spanish, Chinese, and Korean. Released 2014, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

Mike Ashman, writing in the May 2014 Gramophone at page 94 praises everybody and everything but still finds this disc "boring" to watch. But Ashman can't explain why it's boring except he doesn't like videos of living conductors. Well, I have a suspicion: I think this disc probably has a roaring case of DVDitis with umpteen clips of Thielemann serving as hub and many short clips of musicians close-up and instrument-only shots serving as spokes. This manner of presenting a concert is inherently boring because no man standing and waiving his arms can long remain interesting to watch. And Thielemann (one of my favorite conductors, by the way) is especially boring to watch because he doesn't even look or act like the conductor of an orchestra---he looks and acts like the president of an insurance company. The cure for the illness of DVDitis is to instruct the video director to learn the orchestra scores and then focus on whole-orchestra and section-size shots that give the video viewer plenty of opportunity to follow what the whole ensemble is doing. We have a hand-full of wonderful orchestra HDVDs that do this. But most of the orchestra titles coming out now are made like DVDs, and they are in a single word, boring.