Voices of Light

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Andrew Farach-Colton
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 ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Andrew Farach-Colton
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.
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.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/24/2004
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • UPC: 075597981223
  • Catalog Number: 79812
  • Sales rank: 181,613

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Poèmes pour Mi, song cycle for soprano & piano (or orchestra), I/17b: Le Collier - Olivier Messiaen & Olivier Messiaen (3:52)
  2. 2–4 Chansons de Bilitis (3), song cycle for voice & piano, L. 90 - Claude Debussy & Robert Hurwitz (9:29)
  3. 3 Harawi, song cycle for soprano & piano, I/28: L'Escalier redit, gestes du soleil - Olivier Messiaen & Olivier Messiaen (5:40)
  4. 4 Harawi, song cycle for soprano & piano, I/28: Amour oiseau d'étoile - Olivier Messiaen & Olivier Messiaen (4:21)
  5. 5 Lúa descolorida, for voice & piano - Osvaldo Golijov & Robert Hurwitz (5:41)
  6. 6 Poèmes pour Mi, song cycle for soprano & piano (or orchestra), I/17b: Priére exaucée - Olivier Messiaen & Olivier Messiaen (3:09)
  7. 9–18 La chanson d'Eve, song cycle (10) for voice & piano, Op. 95 - Gabriel Fauré & Robert Hurwitz (25:22)
  8. 10 Chants de terre et de ciel, song cycle for soprano & piano, I/19: Résurrection - Olivier Messiaen & Olivier Messiaen (4:08)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Dawn Upshaw Primary Artist
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