. . . soprano gives a magnificent performance of Three Songs, written for her . . . The beauty of these songs is too profound to describe in words, but probably few eyes in the hall were dry. Upshaw's performances of them are the stuff of legend. The songs will surely find their way into the standard repertory, but not right away. They so belong to Upshaw, and her singing of them has become so deeply internalized, that it will take time for other sopranos to find their own way in.
His evocative Three Songs, newly orchestrated, are expressively sung by Dawn Upshaw and display the most captivating blend so far of the composer's disparate cultural roots.
Top of my playlist right now is . . . Osvaldo Golijov . . .
The real prize of this collection of Golijov's music is soprano Dawn Upshaw's fierce, blindingly beautiful performance of "Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra" (2001-02), including the haunting "Lúa descolorida."
. . . you've got some wonderful music to look forward to. Golijov . . . simply happens to be one of the most gifted composers around today. And he's been able to attract an amazing cross-spectrum of listeners who don't normally seek out the latest from the contemporary classical scene . . . The combination of honesty and sheer imagination in his music somehow finds a spot deep in the heart's core. This latest collection is a terrific entrée into his world. First up is the Bach-inspired Oceana (to poetry of Neruda), which mixes Latin American and African percussion with guitars, harp, and Brazilian jazz singer Luciana Souza's solos. The Kronos Quartet then performs the achingly beautiful two-movement meditation on pain, Tenebrae. But worth the price of admission by itself is the radiant cycle Three Songs, sung here by the composer's Muse, the radiant soprano Dawn Upshaw. They'll leave you hungering to get your hands on anything else you can from this composer.
As classical music composers go, Grammy-winner Osvaldo Golijov is one of the most popular. And we're not just talking about how much in demand he is. In works ranging from lovely chamber pieces to ambitious oratorios, Golijov uses elements of folkloric music to confound genres and defy expectations . . .
On top of it, the pieces are sung by Luciana Souza, a versatile talent as at home in classical settings . . . That's a lot of range to cover in the course of one CD, but never does it seem forced, and never are the transitions and combinations anything other than seamless . . . Golijov has become one of the stars of the formal music world, globally acclaimed for work that is at once consistently challenging while also quite inviting and accessible.
. . . with each new piece it becomes clearer that the Grammy Award-winning Golijov is not simply a sophisticated scavenger but a wholly original composer with a dramatically forceful musical imagination. "Oceana" . . . provides a compelling reminder of this point. All the performances are outstanding, with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra providing fiercely committed accompaniment in "Oceana" and the songs. (The Atlanta Symphony Chorus and Gwinnett Young Singers also deserve special mention.) Deutsche Grammophon's next Golijov release is the "Pasion," . . . one waits impatiently for whatever is next from this remarkable artist.
It was in 2004, when his chamber opera Ainadamar premiered at the Tanglewood Festival in Lenox, Mass´. . . Golijov's opera resonated deep inside the subconscious. Lyrical, full of infectious rhythms and evoking several folk traditions, the music synthesized the best of disparate sonic and cultural elements to create something that was highly original and pulsating with vitality . . . A new CD, Oceana, features three of his earlier works . . . that show the composer's formidable range in orchestral and chamber music.
If you're racing along a sunlit highway . . . this would make a fine soundtrack . . . much of that lamentation is beautiful. This piece is well made. And it is well played by the Kronos Quartet . . . Ms. Upshaw sings with her usual ingratiation -- and Mr. Golijov is summed up in one, interesting disc.
. . . [it's] perfectly conceived and immaculately realised. When Golijov's multiple personalities fuse, the results are enormously impressive.
It's great to see one of the major labels make a continuing commitment to a contemporary composer . . . I found myself warming up to Luciana Souza's earthy solos -- and the whole work. No hesitations at all about the other two pieces . . . The plaintive strings wail and lament, and sound gorgeous doing so. Gorgeous is also the word for the Three Orchestral Songs written for the composer's frequent muse, soprano Dawn Upshaw. She sounds wonderful here, and the instrumental accompaniment is filled with beautiful touches . . . The third song put me in mind of Strauss' Four Last Songs -- Mr. Golijov's have the same kind of exaltation and radiant lyricism, spiked with exotic flavors. This is contemporary music that can be enjoyed by mainstream listeners.
Light shines stubborn amid darkness in this arresting collection of music by Osvaldo Golijov . . . Superb throughout. . . Golijov¿s muse Dawn Upshaw['s] seemingly infinite palette of vocal colors (seconded by the piercingly beautiful playing of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra¿s strings and winds) makes up for her Waspy Yiddish in ¿Night of the Flying Horses.¿ In ¿Lúa Descolorida¿ (also part of Golijov¿s Pasión según San Marco), Upshaw drains her voice of color, infusing it with a cosmic, almost painful brightness.
His evocative Three Songs, newly orchestrated, are expressively sung by Dawn Upshaw and display the most captivating.
Pride of place among these recent CD issues must go to a new Deutsche Grammophon album devoted to works by Osvaldo Golijov . . . Every local Golijov "sighting" in recent years has proved a major event . . . If you adored Golijov's "St. Mark Passion" as much as I did, you should find "Oceana" just as irresistible. Its throbbing rhythms, colorful surges of choral and instrumental sound and fiery vocals (by the brilliant Brazilian singer Luciana Souza) emphasize the sensual allure and timeless majesty of the sea. It is vividly performed by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and choruses under Robert Spano. The CD also holds Golijov's "Tenebrae," a radiant, quietly intense meditation . . . It is played with searching conviction by the Kronos Quartet. Even so, the most compelling work on the disc is "Three Songs," music inspired by sources as diverse as a Yiddish lullaby, a Gypsy gallop, a Galician lament and poems of Emily Dickinson. The songs represent Golijov's art at its most deeply personal; they find their ideal expressive vessel in Upshaw, whose indelible performance pierces the heart.
It's just enchanting. Throughout Oceana, percussion instruments from South America and Africa pop and bristle, shimmy and roll in the hands of Cleveland native Jamey Haddad . . . when she sings a curving line, it's carefully done, not free like Souza but wonderfully expressive . . . The scoring is light and transparent. Details pop in the Dickinson song, with surprising combinations like a velvety bass clarinet pulsing away, punctuated by reverberant harp. Here, Upshaw's pure sound blooms with an unabashed voluptuousness. She and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra make How Slow the Wind irresistible . . . Oceana feeds the hunger for more.
These three distinctive works could be by different composers -- which I mean as a compliment to the modish Argentinian Osvaldo Golijov. His remarkable gifts are lavishly displayed in Oceana, a setting of Neruda poems for vocalist and children's choir gift-wrapped in pulsating Latin American rhythms. The string quartet Tenebrae evokes another world altogether -- the chanted lessons of Holy Week, beautifully sung by Dawn Upshaw. Golijov's self-professed 'muse' also performs the neo-Straussian reveries of his Three Songs.
The three pieces by Osvaldo Golijov recorded here offer more evidence that his is one of the freest and most compelling voices on the scene . . . "Oceana" is a large-scale cantata for which the unique sound of Brazilian singer Luciana Souza provided inspiration, and her voice is a unifying thread that runs through it. It's evocative of oceanic vastness without being imitative, and its moments of grand emotion are passionate, even spiritual . . . Souza's voice is absolutely astounding in its tonal coloring and expressive range. Robert Spano leads the Gwinnett Young Singers and the Atlanta Symphony & Chorus in a radiant performance . . . ["Tenebrae"] succeeds in hinting at a hovering sadness that is too profound and private to be overtly expressed . . . Golijov writes to the strengths of Dawn Upshaw's voice, and she sings with gorgeous tone and profound insight. The diversity of the selections and the superb performances make this album a terrific introduction to the range of Golijov's gift and vision.
. . . Osvaldo Golijov has become one of the most exciting composers on today's music scene . . . The texts are intoned . . . by a ferocious double chorus (including children) alternating with the fiery incantations of Brazilian all-genre vocal star Luciana Souza as the ocean goddess herself . . . . There's no way a sentient listener is not going to remain transfixed over the piece's half-hour course . . . The songs . . . in performances by Upshaw, bound into a wondrously unified set . . . As sung by Upshaw and the superb Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under Golijov specialist Robert Spano, they now seem to belong together as much as the songs of a Mahler song cycle. Upshaw sings the Yiddish song with a plaintive beauty not heard since Teresa Stratas knocked us out with her Kurt Weill songs . . . Upshaw ferrets out the emotional core of each song and delivers it in a compelling fusion of word and musical line. Cutting through the masterful orchestration is an achingly beautiful solo bass clarinet line that further binds these songs together . . . this dense, solemn, long-breathed music ["Tenebrae"] has a huge emotional impact and resonance. Kronos Quartet captures both in one of its finest-ever recordings, with a particularly memorable contribution from the latest of its succession of top-of-the-line cellists, Jeffrey Zeigler.
A musician with compelling ideas, an authentic sound and a way of writing tunefully for audiences without patronising them, Osvaldo Golijov (born 1960) is that rarest of rare beasts -- a popular contemporary composer . . . The performances are excellent: Souza has a striking voice, Upshaw is radiant and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus are wonderfully powerful. Thrilling.
Osvaldo Golijov is fast becoming the poster-boy for contemporary composers in the US. And that's for contemporary composers in the US. And that's as it should be. For his music, at once thoughtful and instinctive, esoteric and accessible, is unfailingly haunting and stimulating . . . This latest collection, of his early work "Oceana", "Tenebrae" for string quartet and a collection of songs, is unforgettable. The title-work, composed as a homage to Bach cantatas, is meticulous in its structure -- yet the cumulative effect is of the most gorgeous, sometimes pain-filled vocal waves washing over you. "Tenebrae" offers contrasting views of the world; from the literally global perspective of space, and from immediate proximity to violence. The fascinating thing is how at times the perspectives merge. And this would not be a Golijov album without the presence of his muse, Dawn Upshaw. It is she who has the last word in the soulful, plangent songs . . . it's . . . an album to swoon over . . . Absolutely not to be missed.
Osvaldo Golijov's music is . . . elegantly proportioned and full of references to its owner's learning and travel . . . Under Robert Spano, the Atlanta Symphony and Chorus provide energetic backing for Luciana Souza in 'Oceana'. Dawn Upshaw is radiant in the three poems by Sally Potter . . .
. . . Kronos are magnificent -- this is Golijov at his most accomplished and most affecting never afraid to wear his heart on his musical sleeve. The CD ends with three lushly orchestra songs sung by the soprano Dawn Upshaw, the singer who more than anyone else has identified herself with Golijov and his musical ambitions. If "The Night of the Flying Horses" is the most immediately attractive . . . it's a song that manages . . . to square Golijov's creative circle . . . Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra give it their all. Only Osvaldo Golijov could have dared to do it!
Upshaw and Souza are every bit as resourceful as Golijov, adapting their voices selflessly to the style and intent of the music, emphasizing mood and text over conventional vocal beauty. Robert Spano keeps enough of a lid on Golijov's pulsating, vital energy to maintain tension without letting things get out of hand. The throbbing, pictorial "Tenebrae", which rounds out the disc, is played with moody luster by the Kronos Quartet. Like "Oceana" and "Three Songs", the two-movement quartet underlines the concepts of contrast and balance, suggesting earth and outer space, as well as pain, both observed and experienced.
Osvaldo Golijov strikes again, in his now-familiar multicultural styles . . . It is beautiful, seductive stuff, blending classical, world, jazz, and pop music . . . the poetry is mesmerizing . . . Her [Souza's] vocalizing is endlessly fascinating, and the rest of this performance lives up to her . . . "Oceana" has charms all its own . . . We could ask for no more authentic performances, nor more inspiring ones . . . without him and his like, we are lost.
His impassioned music pulls Bach cantatas, klezmer laments, gypsy music, Brazilian percussion and droning Middle Eastern pop into seamless personal statements. Skeptical? Just look at Golijov's top-shelf collaborators: Grammy-winning conductor Robert Spano; the world-renowned Kronos String Quartet; soprano Dawn Upshaw, a 2007 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant"; and Luciana Souza, feasibly the finest Brazilian pop singer of her generation.
Upshaw is irresistibly affecting and the Atlanta orchestra under Robert Spano play with deep, dark feeling. In simple confectionary terms, this is a luxury chocolate box with many unexpected centres.