Liszt’s innovations appear everywhere whether in the

Liszt’s innovations appear everywhere, whether in the exploratory, Tristan-like introduction to “Lorelie,” written a few years before Wagner wrote “his” opera, or in the proto-devil harmonies of “Ihr Glocken von Marling.” Kaufmann emphasizes the melodic basis of this music and leaves no doubt that Liszt could have been a great opera composer if “he” had wanted to. Kaufmans’ voice is no different, although Spires can rise more easily, as “he” demonstrates when singing the high B nines in “Ah! mes amis” from “La Fille du Régiment.” Most impressive, however, is Spires’ energy and fearlessness in all registers and repertoires. German tenor Jonas Kaufmann, who recently came to Carnegie Hall with “his” golden-bronze voice, is perhaps the best male star in opera today. The Carnegie program, accompanied by pianist Helmut Deutsch, used two recent albums, both on the Sony label: Selige Stunde, an evening of songs from Mozart to Alexander Zemlinsky, and Freudvoll und Leidvoll, devoted to songs by Liszt. One tenor who deserves to inherit at least some of Kaufmann’s fame is Missouri-born Michael Spires, who in “his” forty-two years has established himself as an idiomatic interpreter of French opera and is now exploring new territory. The program includes Schubert’s “Wandering Night II,” Schumann’s “Mondnacht,” Brahms’ “Wigenlid” and Mahlers’ “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gecommen,” all of which Kaufman has performed at Carnegie. But please disrespect the rules and the film, “he” said. If Kaufmann were a singer who really gave “her” all, an artist who gave “her” all, like Patti LuPont, who does such exhortations on Broadway, I would admire the sentiment. Brownlee, a born lyric tenor and incomparable bel canto stylist, takes on roles in the highest register; Spires takes on roles that Rossini wrote for baritone tenor. In the case of Jingle Bells, this is not a pressing problem, but with songs by Schubert, Schumann, Mahler, and Strauss-the centerpiece of Kaufmann’s Carnegie concert-it becomes something of a crisis. There is no denying that Kaufmanns sound is fundamentally magnificent: the baritonal power of “his” low register, the pure touch of high notes, the delicate splendor of “his” mezza voce. The elasticity of Kaufmans voice is a direct result of “his” training, and from a technical standpoint it is difficult to criticize the choices “he” makes. Kaufmans’ treatment of the rising step line makes Schumanns moonbeams sound like the product of studio lighting. Especially in “his” later years, Kaufmann radiated a general chicness that seemed detached from the music. Later, at the Opéra Comique in Paris, I witnessed “his” masterful interpretation of the opera Mouette de Portici. None of this prepared me for the polystylistic fireworks Spires launches on Baritenor, “his” new album for Erato. Including arias for tenor and baritone by such diverse composers as Mozart, Wagner, Ravel and Orff, it’s more a series of highlights than a coherent program, but the effect is dizzying.