In what must be the most intriguing and creative recording yet this year, AYRE, a work for soprano and instrumentalists by Osvaldo Golijov, is a winner. Dawn Upshaw and a fascinating instrumental group called the Andalucian Dogs perform this amalgam of musical ideas of Christian, Arab, and Sephardic Jewish cultures in Spain with traditional instruments, tribal, Klezmer, jazz, and unclassifiable types of compositions by the ever creative Golijov. The work is peppery, moody, lusty and a total joy to hear.
Translations of some of the titles of the individual songs include 'A mother roasted her child', 'Until you return', 'My eyes weep', 'Be a string, water, to my guitar', 'Ariadne in her labyrinth' and the breathtaking 'Oh where shall I find you' in which Upshaw offers otherworldly primal chanting, speaking, and singing. Golijov writes vividly for the harp, percussion, strings and wind instruments, weaving the voice as not only a communicator of the poetry but as an integral part of the instrumental sound. This is an extraordinary composition and one that Dawn Upshaw (this time with the eighth blackbird ensemble) will tour the country. If you are near a performance, don't miss it. Meanwhile the recording is so superb that it seems bound for Grammy awards.
Rounding out this CD are the Folksongs by Luciano Berio (written for his wife Cathy Berberian who also recorded them) as sung by the incredibly gifted Dawn Upshaw. The songs (ten in number) are from the US, France, Italy, Sardinia, Auvergne - France, Sicily, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. And yes, Upshaw sings each in native tongue! The settings are minimally orchestrated for maximum effect and the performances are gently magnificent. This is a CD that deserves the attention of all types of music lovers. And it serves even more notice of the genius that is Osvaldo Golijov. Highly Recommended! Grady Harp, September 05