Fairouz's style is serious but successful . . . This entire project comes together quite powerfully and will give rise to many reflections on the role of art in the current violent world.
Deeply moving work from this bright young composer . . . I have followed the work of the brilliant young New York-based composer Mohammed Fairouz for some time now and, I must say, his music never ceases to surprise me and, often, move me . . . As good as the reading by Irish poet Paul Muldoon is and as inspirational; sad and uplifting, simultaneously, the words by Kennedy, Heaney and Auden are; this piece moves and inspires on the strength of the music. Fairouz's score succeeds on every level. Kate Lindsey is a terrific singer and brings a true poignancy to "Audenesque" that will stay with you for a long time. In "Sadat", Fairouz uses all his trademark "tools" of orchestration and tone to convey the promise of Sadat's leadership and the shock and grief that came with his murder . . . I find him to be a major young talent who, unlike many composers, has a defining voice that will help to make his works recognizably -- and admirably -- his own . . . If you have never heard any of his music, this disc is -- in many ways -- a perfect introduction; it is simply beautiful in many places.
Pizzicato basses quietly open "Audenesque II" before Kate Lindsey mezzo soon enters. Fairouz shows himself to be wonderfully adept at word setting, shaping the words with an unfailing sensitivity and understanding. "Audenesque III" has a lovely rhythmic lilt, finely orchestrated, with short orchestral interludes to point up the texts before the soloist re-enters. There are many fine instrumental details adding variety with this mezzo-soprano bringing much fine understanding and emotional thrust to this setting. The final part of this work, "Audenesque IV", sets Seamus Heaney's poem "Audenesque". It often has a rather playful feel, picking up on Auden's often macabre text. Lindsey copes wonderfully with the emotional changes and varying rhythmic tempi, before rising in intensity. This is a substantial, impressive and richly emotional setting, finely orchestrated and wonderfully sung . . . ["Jehan"] is a most exquisitely written piece . . . ["Sadat"]: This is another very fine work given a terrific performance here by Ensemble LPR conducted by Evan Rogister . . . Deutsche Grammophon's confidence in this fine young composer is amply rewarded. It is a brilliant concept to include the readings of Auden and Heaney alongside Mohammed Fairouz's fine settings . . . This is rather a special disc.
. . . Fairouz's work is a beautiful and at times thrilling cycle, grippingly performed by the versatile mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey. In the first song, the rapidly churning violin ostinato grabs the listener immediately, and the voice enters shortly thereafter, urgently describing the bleak, war-torn day of Yeats's death in 1939. Fairouz strips the accompaniment down to next to nothing when necessary, letting the stark language sink in. The musical setting is intense yet reverential, as the composer layers his own veneration of Yeats on top of Auden's. After the slow, spare second song, Fairouz allows the music of the third to follow the regular, almost singsong phrases of the poem, resulting in a refreshingly direct ballad in C minor. About halfway through, on the eponymous line "Follow, poet", the vocal line explodes in a soaring, sorceress-like incantation with a triplet feel. Lindsey delivers this with hair-raising authority. The "Audenesque" movement is the most varied and interesting. In the last stanza, Fairouz, for all his sophistication, can't resist breaking into a broad, triadically harmonized melody (one he has hinted at earlier), with glorious results . . . [the thirteen virtuoso players of Ensemble LPR] perform with virtuosity and commitment throughout both the song cycle and the ballet, under the clearly inspired leadership of Evan Rogister. Fairouz has quickly joined the ranks of a small handful of contemporary composers one watches eagerly to see what they will come up with next.
Fairouz has amassed an impressive resume of performers and recordings . . . The music is thoroughly accessible and tonal . . . ["Audenesque"] is effectively read by Paul Muldoon . . . Ms Lindsey acquits herself nicely.