Voices of Light

Voices of Light

by Dawn Upshaw
     
 

Leave it to Dawn Upshaw to come up with a song recital as daring and ecstatically delicate as this. Inspired by her performances in Olivier Messiaen's visionary opera Saint François d'Assise (as the booklet note tells us), she began exploring the composer's songs, and a selection of his underappreciated and mysteriously…  See more details below

Overview

Leave it to Dawn Upshaw to come up with a song recital as daring and ecstatically delicate as this. Inspired by her performances in Olivier Messiaen's visionary opera Saint François d'Assise (as the booklet note tells us), she began exploring the composer's songs, and a selection of his underappreciated and mysteriously luminous gems ties this program together. Woven around Messiaen's music are song cycles by Debussy and Fauré, with a song by the contemporary Argentinean-born composer Osvaldo Golijov placed strategically at the recital's center. Upshaw, an acclaimed Melisande, has already recorded a mesmerizing album of Debussy songs, but the three Chansons de Bilitis are a welcome addition to her discography. Her Fauré is perhaps even more impressive. This music requires a cool intensity that is Upshaw's forte, and Gilbert Kalish accompanies sensitively, imbuing the spare lines of the piano part with expressive directness. As for the Golijov song, while it may seem out of place in an otherwise all-French program, it actually fits in quite beautifully, with its gentle, rocking accompaniment and the sensuous caress of the vocal line. All in all, then, this is an album to cherish, and its value is only increased by Michael Steinberg's extensive and exceptionally enlightening booklet note.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Allen Schrott
Making song recordings with context and cohesion is one of Dawn Upshaw's specialties, and one of her best qualities. Voices of Light, with pianist Gilbert Kalish, is a masterpiece in that regard, pairing the underappreciated songs of Olivier Messiaen with those of Debussy, Fauré, and relative newcomer Osvaldo Golijov. The result is a heady and interesting program -- one that feels exciting right out of the wrapper. The Messiaen and Golijov are fantastic, and by themselves justify the purchase of the album; "Prière Exaucée" (Prayer Granted) from "Poèmes pour Mi," for instance, has an electric, visceral joy; and Golijov's "Lúa Descolorida" (Colorless Moon) unfurls the kind of slow, simple beauty that makes sadness a thing to be savored. The rest of the album is somewhat uneven, largely because Upshaw's French is too wordy, too accented, and too removed from the essential melodic quality of the language to capture the music's real mojo. Debussy's "Chansons de Bilitis" in particular, three of the most erotic and ephemeral songs he ever composed, seem sexless and disjointed, wanting for a more syrupy and evocative vocalism. But Kalish is on the money, playing with the kind of "raindrops on a pond" color and articulation that bring the best out of impressionism. Fauré's "La chanson d'Ève" fairs better, benefiting from Upshaw's careful attention to poetry. In the end, this is a highly recommendable recording that offers the welcome opportunity to hear some less-familiar gems lovingly performed.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/24/2004
Label:
Nonesuch
UPC:
0075597981223
catalogNumber:
79812

Tracks

  1. Poèmes pour Mi, song cycle for soprano & piano (or orchestra), I/17b: Le Collier  - Olivier Messiaen  - Olivier Messiaen  - Robert Hurwitz  - Gilbert Kalish  - Dawn Upshaw  - Dawn Upshaw  - Osvaldo Golijov  - Osvaldo Golijov  - Peter Low
  2. Chansons de Bilitis (3), song cycle for voice & piano, L. 90  - Claude Debussy  - Robert Hurwitz  - Gilbert Kalish  - Pierre Louys  - Dawn Upshaw  - Dawn Upshaw  - Osvaldo Golijov  - Osvaldo Golijov  - Peter Low
  3. Harawi, song cycle for soprano & piano, I/28: L'Escalier redit, gestes du soleil  - Olivier Messiaen  - Olivier Messiaen  - Robert Hurwitz  - Gilbert Kalish  - Dawn Upshaw  - Dawn Upshaw  - Osvaldo Golijov  - Osvaldo Golijov  - Peter Low
  4. Harawi, song cycle for soprano & piano, I/28: Amour oiseau d'étoile  - Olivier Messiaen  - Olivier Messiaen  - Robert Hurwitz  - Gilbert Kalish  - Dawn Upshaw  - Dawn Upshaw  - Osvaldo Golijov  - Osvaldo Golijov  - Peter Low
  5. Lúa descolorida, for voice & piano  - Osvaldo Golijov  - Robert Hurwitz  - Gilbert Kalish  - Dawn Upshaw  - Dawn Upshaw  - Osvaldo Golijov  - Osvaldo Golijov  - Rosalía de Castro
  6. Poèmes pour Mi, song cycle for soprano & piano (or orchestra), I/17b: Priére exaucée  - Olivier Messiaen  - Olivier Messiaen  - Robert Hurwitz  - Gilbert Kalish  - Dawn Upshaw  - Dawn Upshaw  - Osvaldo Golijov  - Osvaldo Golijov  - Peter Low
  7. La chanson d'Eve, song cycle (10) for voice & piano, Op. 95  - Gabriel Fauré  - Robert Hurwitz  - Gilbert Kalish  - Charles van Lerberghe  - Dawn Upshaw  - Dawn Upshaw  - Osvaldo Golijov  - Osvaldo Golijov  - Peter Low
  8. Chants de terre et de ciel, song cycle for soprano & piano, I/19: Résurrection  - Olivier Messiaen  - Olivier Messiaen  - Robert Hurwitz  - Gilbert Kalish  - Dawn Upshaw  - Dawn Upshaw  - Osvaldo Golijov  - Osvaldo Golijov  - Peter Low

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