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Classical 17/09/2014

World Renowned Tenor Jonas Kaufmann Releases New Album Of Melodies From Germany's Golden Era

World Renowned Tenor Jonas Kaufmann Releases New Album Of Melodies From Germany's Golden Era

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New York, NY (Top40 Charts/ Sony Classical) "I love the tenor hits from the age of the talkies," says Jonas Kaufmann. "My grandfather was studying in Berlin at that time, and he used to whistle these songs in the street. Besides that, I've always been fascinated by this 'legendary era' in Germany's cultural history. It was a time of incredible productivity. True, a great many of its hits have survived, but what we know of it today is only the tip of the iceberg. There are lots of wonderful pieces waiting to be rediscovered."

Jonas Kaufmann has often sung standards such as "Dein ist mein ganzes Herz", "Freunde, das Leben ist lebenswert" or "Du bist die Welt fur mich" as encores. We need to only think of his Berlin Waldbuhne concert with Anna Netrebko and Erwin Schrott in August 2011. That's when the idea arose for his new album titled You Mean the World to Me, which will be available September 16 from Sony Classical. It needed a solid concept: no bland arrangements, just the original sound. The huge field of light music between Offenbach and Abraham was narrowed down to the period between 1925 and 1935 - from the hits of Franz Lehar and Richard Tauber to the heyday of the movie song, from the Roaring Twenties to the expulsion and blacklisting of all the songwriters, lyricists and singers who effectively defined the genre.

"No repertoire has challenged me more than this one!" says Kaufmann, who sings Siegmund and Parsifal, Don Carlo and Alvaro, Don Jose and Werther, Die Winterreise and Das Lied von der Erde! "It's called 'easy listening' because the music sounds easy to the audience", the singer explains. "But most of the standards from Lehar, Kalman, Stolz and Abraham are extremely demanding on the voice. Easy listening, maybe, but not easy performing!"

Never before has Kaufmann had to be so vocally flexible as on his new album. After pop songs like Paul Abraham's "Diwanpuppchen" and movie hits like "Irgendwo auf der Welt," which call for a gentle croon, he risked a laryngeal tour de force with Kunneke's "Lied vom Leben des Schrenk" - a song only Helge Rosvaenge, Rudolf Schock and Fritz Wunderlich had ventured to sing before him. The hit tunes that Franz Lehar wrote for his friend Richard Tauber demand the full range of his voice, from hovering piano and sensual cantilena to a radiant Heldentenor. In professional circles, standards such as "Dein ist mein ganzes Herz" and "Freunde, das Leben ist lebenswert" fall under the heading of "Puccini/Lehar." Even "Du bist die Welt fur mich," Richard Tauber's most famous composition, sounds much easier than it actually is.

The scene of the action is Berlin. Here's where the "legendary era" began, namely with the German premiere of Lehar's Paganini at the Berlin Kunstlertheater in January 1926. Thanks to Richard Tauber, it was a roaring success and launched an incomparable run of hits, lasting until the premiere of Giuditta at the Vienna State Opera in 1934.

The entertainment industry ran at full throttle, not only in the theatre but in every medium. The horrors of the Great War and the economic crises had brought forth an insatiable appetite for entertainment and diversion. Radio and gramophone companies vied for the audience's favors, and the merry-go-round spun even faster with the invention of "talkies."

The recording sessions took place in the outstanding acoustics of the Nalepastraße Broadcasting Studio (the former headquarters of East German Radio) and were pure pleasure for everyone involved. Kaufmann's duet partner Julia Kleiter, conductor Jochen Rieder, the musicians of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra: all immediately fell under the spell of the music and joined in the swing. And though "easy listening" is anything but easy to sing, for Jonas Kaufmann it was "sheer and utter delight. I had heaps of fun doing it. And I want more!"

Sony Masterworks comprises, Masterworks, Okeh, Portrait, Sony Classical, RCA Red Seal, and Masterworks Broadway imprints. For email updates and information please visit

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Girls Were Made to Love and Kiss
(Gern hab' ich die Frau'n gekusst)
from Paganini
You Are My Heart's Delight
(Dein ist mein ganzes Herz!)
from Das Land des Lachelns
The Land of Smiles · Le Pays du sourire
Du bist die Welt fur mich
from Der singende Traum
My Little Nest of Heavenly Blue
(Hab' ein blaues Himmelbett)
from Frasquita
Im Traum hast du mir alles erlaubt
from Das Liebeskommando
Gruß mir mein Wien
from Grafin Mariza
Irgendwo auf der Welt
from Ein Blonder Traum
My Song Goes Round the World
(Ein Lied geht um die Welt)
Freunde, das Leben ist lebenswert!
from Giuditta
Reich mir zum Abschied noch einmal die Hande
from Viktoria und ihr Husar
It Would Be Wonderful Indeed
(Es muss was Wunderbares sein)
from Im weißen Rossl
The White Horse Inn · L'Auberge du Cheval-Blanc
from Die Blume von Hawaii
Don't Ask Me Why
from Das Lied ist aus
Heute Nacht oder nie
from Das Lied einer Nacht
Das Lied vom Leben des Schrenk
from Die große Sunderin
Gluck, das mir verblieb
from Die tote Stadt
Je t'ai donne mon cœur
(Dein ist mein ganzes Herz!)
from Das Land des Lachelns
Julia Kleiter soprano (10/12/16)
Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin
Jochen Rieder conductor

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