Barbara Hannigan releases her second album as soprano and conductor with Dutch orchestra LUDWIG, following on from Crazy Girl Crazy which won the 2018 GRAMMY Award for Best Classical Solo Vocal album.
La Passione juxtaposes works by Luigi Nono (1924-1990), Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) and Gérard Grisey (1946-1998), offering a triptych of perspectives on death and transfiguration. The album opens with Nono’s powerful Djamila Boupacha for solo soprano, inspired by the young Algerian woman who became a symbol of the injustice leading to the French-Algerian war. Hannigan calls the work: “an homage to the courage of a voice. Since I began singing this aria over 10 years ago, it has become part of my exploration of the modern bel canto.”
The album continues with Haydn’s Symphony no. 49, with Hannigan conducting LUDWIG orchestra. The evocative work – later given the epithet La Passione, recalling the universal experience of loss and grieving – is tragic and theatrical in its very nature and considered by the Canadian artist as a journey of souls: the ones enduring on earth and the ones who have departed.
The recording concludes with Gérard Grisey’s striking meditation on death and the afterlife, Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil [Four Songs to Cross the Threshold], which Hannigan sings and conducts. She comments: “Confused, tender, angry and curious, full of breath and rhythm, at the edge of technical virtuosity and discipline: these Four Songs for 15 instruments and soprano (let us say, 16 voices) demand everything of us.” Barbara Hannigan continues: “I have been performing and exploring these works for many years and they have left deep imprints. The vocal writing of Luigi Nono’s Djamila Boupacha echoes the characteristically ‘sturm und drang’ Haydn Symphony no. 49, as well as the peaceful and lyrical moments within the Grisey.”