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The starting point for Barbara Hannigan’s third recording for Alpha is a work by Gérard Grisey (1946-98) that is particularly close to her heart. Grisey wrote: ‘I conceived the Quatre Chants pour franchir le seuil [Four songs for crossing the threshold] as a musical meditation on death in four parts: the death of the angel, the death of civilisation, the death of the voice and the death of humanity... The texts chosen belong to four civilisations (Christian, Egyptian, Greek, Mesopotamian) and have in common a fragmentary discourse on the inevitability of death.’ Luigi Nono (1924-90) was a politically engaged composer. His stunning monody Djamila Boupacha, a heart-rending cry for solo soprano, pays tribute to a freedom fighter tortured by French paratroopers during the Algerian war; Picasso also portrayed her in charcoal. Once again Barbara Hannigan both sings and directs this pair of twentieth-century works with her friends of the Ludwig Orchestra. She has chosen to couple them with a Classical symphony by the master of the genre, Joseph Haydn, which also deals with the theme of the Passion. Her interpretation is extremely intense and highly personal.

"The singer's extraordinary agility and the care she takes over the slightest note makes the page resemble a sanctification of pain"
Le Monde
"Barbara Hannigan is a total wonder, but which of this Canadian’s gifts do you worship first? Is it the strength and purity of her soprano voice? Or the manual and technical dexterity that allows her to sing the most complex music while conducting at the same time? Then there is her flair for adventurous programming, which makes unlikely connections between music from different centuries."
The Times
"The precision with which Hannigan and the musicians of the Dutch orchestra Ludwig lure you to the realm of the dead is breathtaking"
Volkskrant
"We easily recognise the mark of the interpreter's commitment to creation, which she has always made a point of serving, both as a singer and as a conductor."
Le Figaro
"The result jumps into your ear through the pulse’s explosive theatricality and the emphatic variations in dynamics"
L'Echo
"Hannigan gives it an emotional intensity that helps it hold its own in the company of Nono and Grisey. [...] reaching out in unlikely directions is what Canadian soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan is all about."
Financial Times
"Hannigan conducts and sings Gérard Grisey’s final prescient work with style, conceiving it as a triptych with works by Haydn and Luigi Nono"
The Guardian
"Her interpretation is extremely intense and highly personal."
Presto
"Hannigan gives it an emotional intensity that helps it hold its own in the company of Nono and Grisey. [...] The spare, exploratory music of Gérard Grisey is a rare bird in standard concert programmes. It is a fair bet that it has never been paired with a Haydn symphony before, but then reaching out in unlikely directions is what Canadian soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan is all about."
Financial Times
"Her interpretation is extremely intense and highly personal."
Presto
"An ambitious program with a “can’t miss” piece (the Grisey) and all of it exquisitely executed: recommended."
La Sequenza
"The remarkably daring Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan returns with another spectacular recording."
The Flip Side