Osvaldo Golijov
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Selected Reviews
For more reviews of these and other works, view the individual works and CDs within the Works and Discography sections.
La Pasión según San Marcos
"A millennial work of genius. A magnificent triumph." The New York Times

"La Schola Cantorum de Caracas is counted among the handful of the world's great vocal ensembles, and they may be unrivaled for the range of sounds they produce." New York Observer

"A work of genius. The Pasión will stand as the first indisputably great composition of the 21st Century." Boston Globe

"It grabs you, it holds you tight, and at the end—as the stricken Jesus filters into our sensibility to the throb of mambo rhythms while the Hebrew Kaddish sweeps over the ensemble as if from another world—you find yourself uplifted and drained." –Alan Rich, LA Weekly

"Extravagant choral outbursts, feverish street-band percussion and ballad like bar-room solos. Amazing. An unquestionable masterpiece." The New York Times

"30 years from now this Pasión will be cited as the work which did the most to lead classical music out of its ivory tower." New York Observer

"Transcendent. A triumph. The audience leapt to its collective feet and let loose with cheers, deafening applause and foot-stomping for a full 20 minutes." Los Angeles Times
"His works arouse extraordinary enthusiasm in audiences, because they revive music's elemental powers: they have rhythms that rock the body into motion and melodies that linger in the mind." –Alex Ross, The New Yorker

"Golijov's score is amazing, in its opening distant trumpet calls, its insinuating dance rhythms, its vital command of percussion and its arrestingly beautiful arias for women's voice. The end is a devastatingly lush trio, with the voices of Lorca and Margarita from beyond guiding the way for Nuria...A theater of delirium." –Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times

"Its power lies in its pure emotional authenticity. Ainadamar is filled with gorgeous music, and it passes the first and ultimate test of opera: The characters are defined by the music they sing—and that music is hauntingly beautiful." –Philip Kennicott, The Washington Post

"Golijov tells this tragic tale with a score that confirms his stature as a leading composer of his generation. His idiom is unique; one can identify within it influences and ingredients, but Golijov weaves them into a tapestry so cohesive and compelling that such detective work is meaningless." –Wes Blomster, Musicalamerica.com

"Like his fellow Argentinean Astor Piazzolla, Mr. Golijov does not harness popular music; he liberates it. The energy is freed from a simple dance band function and allowed to wander into modulating keys and new meters. This is "low art" arranged in sophisticated sentences. Mr. Golijov is not afraid to get his hands dirty... Energy runs like an underground stream beneath this piece." –Bernard Holland, The New York Times

"A stunning new opera, a mesmerizing intersection of true history, the fantastic imagination of Hwang and the musical genius of Golijov... The opera opened with the sound of water followed by a remarkable counterpoint of Spanish rhythms and toreador fanfares. Not only is Golijov's music an entertaining tapestry of jazzy, earthy rhythms, his gift for melody is extraordinary. His melodies were inspired by the three cultures of Spain: Arab, Jewish and Christian, as well as Gypsy-flamenco elements.

It all unfolded, dreamlike. Dawn Upshaw was completely absorbing as Margarita. Her persona could be radiant or tragically dark, and the depth of her emotion was profound. Lorca, a "pants" role, was richly sung by mezzo Kelley O'Connor, a member of Santa Fe's apprentice program. A chorus of young women, in black dresses, encircled the principal singers in an almost mystical choreography." –Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati Enquirer

"Golijov's music is memorable. Thrumming guitars and slapping percussion set up the hypnotic syncopation of Spanish dancing. Its mesmerizing melodies coursed in minor-mode flamenco style — sometimes lulling, sometimes shouting, but always writhing and falling. Every measure, even the defiant ending, was weighted by the angst of hope deferred... music that revels in earthly passion and spiritual transformation" –Chris Schull, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"Golijov transcends narrative opera by creating dreamlike scenes that touch the essence of the two main characters, the young Spanish playwright Federico Garcia Lorca and the actress Margarita Xirgu." –George Loomis, Financial Times

"Those of us at the Tanglewood Theatre on Sunday evening for the world premiere of Osvaldo Golijov's first opera, "Ainadamar," witnessed a rare and special thing: the debut of a new opera that works. It works mainly because Golijov can't seem to write music that isn't full of life, passion and drama." –T.J. Medrek, Boston Herald
"As the music leapt from wispy to raucous, you could feel a shiver run through the audience: the visceral recognition of a work of freshness and genius. Golijov moves about the topography of music more fearlessly and unself-consciously than any other composer working today. 'Ayre' is a deliriously disjunct excursion around the Jewish Mediterranean, gathering up Sephardic folk tunes, Semitic electronica, Arabic poetry and songs of Solomonic sensuality." –Justin Davidson, Newsday

"A statement at one timeless and contemporary. In the program notes, Golijov says his intention was 'to create a 'forest' and for Dawn to walk in it.' The forest simile is a good one. This wood is both oppressive and enchanted, tragic and imbued with the human spirit of resilience. ...'Ayre' is a lament for a lost time and civilization, one in which Christian, Arab and Jew could live in harmony. In its darkened trail, it sweeps all doubts aside. Music functions in the service of both itself and a higher ideal." –Andrew L. Pincus, Berkshire Eagle

"These days few new works arouse audiences like those of Osvaldo Golijov; the Newton composer has become the star of his generation. Last night at the local premiere of Golijov's latest piece, 'Ayre,' a 45-minute song-cycle for Dawn Upshaw and chamber ensemble, a roar of shouting and applause broke out after the third song, a reception that was replicated when the composer appeared onstage at the end... The music is full of passion, humor, tragedy and all the complexity of life." –Richard Dyer, The Boston Globe
Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra
"The songs are intimate, intense, and haunting, expertly crafted for voice and instruments, and the emotionally overwhelming Emily Dickinson song ends quietly and on a low note. Upshaw sang, as always, with her whole being." –Richard Dyer, Boston Globe
Lúa Descolorida
"...'Lúa Descolorida,' whose transfixing lyricism and haunting, fluttering melismas suggest that Golijov is one of the finest melodists of our time." –Justin Davidson, Newsday
How Slow the Wind
"...A recent song, 'How Slow the Wind,' for soprano and string quartet, with a text adapted from Emily Dickinson, demonstrated Golijov's increasing ability to find the core of emotional expression in pure music, every transparent gesture beautifully conceived." Los Angeles Times
"...With the unusually tranquil score, the 41-year-old Golijov confirms his status as one of today's most gifted and appearling composers..." –Wes Blomster, andante.com
"Oceana is gorgeous, irresistible, simultaneously ancient and wholly new." –Susan Larson, Boston Globe
The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind
"...a startling artistic experience whose echoes will haunt attentive listeners for a long time to come." –Jack Dressler, Spoleto Today
Caravan (CD)
"This is music played by a Romanian Gypsy band and a California string quartet, arranged by an Argentine whose family is from Russia. It makes me think of walking in New York or Paris or San Francisco and seeing the incredible connections between people." New York Daily News
Yiddishbbuk (CD)
"This is an amazing recording. It will leave you drained of emotion and speechless with admiration." –Amazon.com
Nuevo (CD)
"The bulk of these compositions have been arranged by composer Osvaldo Golijov who seemingly brings a manic energy and a playfulness to everything he touches." –Amazon.com