German tenor Jonas Kaufmann sounds in particularly fresh voice on this album of excerpts from Richard Wagner’s operas.
He brings youthful exuberance to the “Forest Murmurs” scene from “Siegfried,” then switches seamlessly to the mature bitterness of Tannhaeuser’s “Rome Narrative.” His rendition of the prayer from the last act of Wagner’s early opera “Rienzi” is especially lovely. One track offer a welcome surprise: His “Grail Narrative” from “Lohengrin” includes the second verse, which Wagner himself cut before the premiere and which has rarely been recorded.
Also included are the five Wesendonck songs in the Felix Mottl orchestration. Though these were written for a female voice, Kaufmann makes them his own with unflagging lyricism. The melodies and harmonies in these songs prefigure “Tristan und Isolde,” an opera that Kaufmann will surely tackle in a few years. The singer gets strong support by the Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin conducted by Donald Runnicles.
Warner Bros. Records, $7.99
The Foals always mix it up. Their first album, “Antidotes,” was loaded with heavy drumbeats, while “Total Life Forever” was more melancholic with beautiful lyrical prowess.
The British band sticks to its wild formula on “Holy Fire.” It opens with “Prelude,” a 4-minute long instrumental that blasts into “Inhaler,” showcasing a rockier side to the band. There are howling guitars and shouting vocals, courtesy of Yannis Philippakis.
“My Number” is addictive and could have jumped straight from a Talking Heads record. It is funky, uplifting and playful, and the lyrics illustrate optimism: “I feel the love, feel the love.”
Melancholia isn’t far away though, as the record swings back down with “Bad Habit,” which is a soulful lament. “I’m a bad habit, one you cannot shake,” sings Philippakis.