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Kaufmann and the marvelous Donald Runnicles, who leads sympathetically and very much in keeping with his tenor’s strengths and feelings throughout the recital, do not linger morbidly or unnecessarily over each song; nor are they rushed. Runnicles allows the freshness of Kaufmann’s soft singing to take center stage (listen to “Traume”—it’s gorgeously dreamy) and he makes certain that the transparency in Wagner’s orchestration is at the fore. The understanding that they both—and Kaufmann in particular—bring to these songs never seems out of place; the fact that it is a man’s voice never jars. The sound on this recording and the playing of the Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin are peerless.

Robert Levine

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