Tenor Jonas Kaufmann, while an adventurous singer, brings a lot of low-key subtlety to this “Winterreise.” He is wise in not joining the legions of singers who always seem out to reinvent the wheel. Instead, though his delivery is free and he sometimes surprises you, he seems confident that his own lyricism and grace can carry the day, and they do.
Helmut Deutsch, a veteran accompanist, mirrors his sensibilities. His cool allows you to marvel at the genius of the accompaniments. Schubert, though no virtuoso pianist, really knew how to use the instrument.
Kaufmann and Deutsch are used to performing together this bleak but beautiful cycle. The result is a kind of eerie calm over the first song, with its magical shift to the major key, and the haunting final song about the hurdy-gurdy man in the snow. In the many more dramatic songs in between, they show fine control and unity of purpose. This is another reason to see Kaufmann as one of the most exciting singers around.
Jonas Kaufmann, tenor, and Helmut Deutsch, piano, perform Schubert’s “Winterreise” [Sony Classical]