Osvaldo Golijov
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Ayre (2004): Reviews
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Justin Davidson
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. [more]
The New Yorker
Alex Ross
 "Ayre," a new song cycle by the Argentinean-born composer Osvaldo Golijov, which Deutsche Grammophon is releasing on CD on September 27th, is not only an ecstatically beautiful piece but also a radical and disorienting one. Many people, on first encountering its rasping sonorities, hurtling rhythms, and welters of lament, will be unsure whether they are listening to pop music or to classical music or to some folk ritual of indeterminate origin. However they answer, they will be right... Golijov has created a new beast, of bastard parentage and glorious plumage. [more]
The New York Times
Allan Kozinn
Skipping Across the Globe and Through Time...a magnificent song cycle that has one foot in Renaissance Spain, where Jewish, Muslim and Roman Catholic cultures mingled, and the other in the messier modern world. Its texts and some of its melodies are based on Sephardic and Arabic folk songs, along with 12th-century liturgical poetry of Yehuda Halevi and a modern poem by Mahmoud Darwish, juxtaposed in a sweeping, often deeply moving sequence. Ms. Upshaw, who also sang the work in 2004 at Zankel Hall, threw herself into it completely, drawing on a broad range of vocal color and singing its melismatic lines with an evocatively Mediterranean lilt. [more]
The Cleveland Plain Dealer
Wilma Salisbury
Soprano leads program with heart and soulSoprano Dawn Upshaw took listeners on a mesmerizing musical journey Sunday night at Severance Hall. "Ayre," the stunning song cycle written for her by Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov revisits 15th-century Spain and its vivid mix of Christian, Jewish and Arab cultures. [more]
LA Weekly
Alan Rich
BlissThe marvel of Osvaldo Golijov's music, brought forward more clearly in every new major work, is a fascinating process of self-revelation of his own variegated heritage, gorgeously made clear in one work after another. [more]
WNYC Soundcheck
Anastasia Tsioulcas
Favorite classical recording in recent memory.
Gramophone MagazineEditor's ChoiceAn astounding disc. An intoxicating, endlessly haunting mixture of styles and musical cultures - deeply infused with the tuneful melancholy of Jewish Klezmer music. Dawn Upshaw, Golijov's muse, whoops and croons like a force of nature.
The New York TimesBest of the YearJewish, Arabic and Spanish elements come together in Osvaldo Golijov's inspired salmagundi of songs drenched in folk and pop traditions of the Mediterranean, from danceable laptop-powered grooves to radiant slow songs full of yearning. Dawn Upshaw sings with aching beauty. Much more of Mr. Golijov's genre-defying music is on its way to Lincoln Center next month.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution
Best of the Year
Osvaldo Golijov "Ayre." Soprano Dawn Upshaw sings a 40-minute song cycle by the great Argentine composer, whose opera "Ainadamar" was the triumph of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's fall season. On CD, Upshaw and the Andalucian Dogs, a chamber ensemble, explore updated medieval sounds from southern Spain, where Arabs, Christians and Jews intermingled in relative peace, at least until 1492. Golijov deepens with each new score, and "Ayre," from 2004, includes some of his most emotionally piercing and perfumed work to date. Also on the disk — Golijov's inspiration, really — is Luciano Berio's classic "Folk Songs" from 1964, a globe-trotting collection from the late modernist master.
San Jose Mercury NewsBest of the Year 
Chicago TribuneBest of the Year 
Denver Post Best of the Year 
Wichita EagleBest of the Year 
Hitting highs and lows that waver and wash with the sandy majesty of Petra and Oran, Upshaw has transformed herself into a sister of Haza. She deploys a sinuous vocal intelligence here that winds itself around your heart within minutes, even as you're shocked to discover the dune-shimmering subtleties of textures never heard from her before. [more]
Diario La Nacion (Argentina)
Pablo Kohan
Una exquisita combinación
Por dos tipos de combinaciones absolutamente diferentes, este disco es una joyita de rigurosa actualidad. Por un lado, presenta una combinación musical harto elocuente y significativa de dos creaciones para canto y ensamble de cámara de Luciano Berio y de Osvaldo Golijov. [more]
Mike Schiller
Ayre is extraordinary, a song cycle exposing the tenuous relationship between Jewish, Christian, and Arab culture, using the similarities between the three to subtly color and transition passages throughout the work while incorporating the tension between the three in the conflict-ridden text of the songs.... The end result is alternately disconcerting and peaceful, and at least as dynamic as anything the pop scene has released this year. [more]
Home Theater High Fidelity
Jason Victor Serinus
Osvaldo Golijov is that rare composer who can create gorgeous alchemical syntheses from multi-cultural texts, ancient musical forms, and contemporary concerns. [more]
Robert Levine
 Golijov's songs are strange, daring, and magnificent, in composition, accompaniment, rhythm, and vocal delivery. He doesn't seem to care whether he's making music classical or popular: as a result he has created something unique. Fans of pop music will be as entranced by this as will those specializing in classical music. Try this—it's remarkable
Los Angeles Times
Mark Swed
 "Ayre" is essential music for a culturally conflicted civilization... Golijov's songs twist meaning. To an arrestingly beautiful Sephardic tune, a mother sings of roasting her child. Underneath an Arabic Good Friday lament, electronics swirl around an accordion, beats from a laptop lap around the bazaar, Upshaw mourns a love lost to a new culture... it is already the indispensable new recording of the season. On it, Upshaw sings with a riotously expressive instrumental group called the Andalusian Dogs, which premiered "Ayre" at Carnegie Hall..."Ayre" brings light to darkness. Get the CD.
David Gregson
 Among the somewhat exclusive club of first-rate 21st-century composers, Osvaldo Golijov is perhaps the most beguiling. His music is often disarming, seductive, irresistible. Seemingly effortless and unselfconscious, Golijov's music bridges stylistic and cultural barriers to achieve a surprising profundity... It is impossible to think of the Middle East today and to hear Ayre with its troubled texts and gorgeous melodies and not be moved.
Time Out New York
Steve Smith
 "Ayre" skips lightly across every conceivable boundary. The writing encompasses keening Sephardic melodies, jaunty klezmer references and Palestinian verse, often underscored with dizzying electronica. The result suggest a genuinely utopian vision, and provides Upshaw with a stunning tour de force... I stopped thinking of her as one of the finest vocalists in the classical-music world and saw her for what she truly is: one of the world's brightest, boldest singers, period.
San Diego Union Tribune
Valerie Scher
 During the final section of Osvaldo Golijov's "Ayre," celebrated soprano Dawn Upshaw sang with her eyes closed and her body swaying, like a diva in the throes of musical rapture. Her voice soared, attuned to the exoticism of the instrumental accompaniment, which reflected both Middle Eastern chromaticism and sultry Latin rhythms. It was the beguiling climax to Golijov's 45-minute-long song cycle... "Ayre," was a dazzling showcase for Upshaw, for whom it was written... an ambitious amalgam of elements that were, by turns, uplifting and earthy, traditional and experimental.
Barnes and Noble Review It may be too soon to start talking about 21st-century classics, but here's an early contender... A singular triumph for Upshaw and Golijov alike, "Ayre," also showcases a superb chamber ensemble and marks the beginning of a well-deserved partnership between the composer and the venerable Deutsche Grammophon label.
Bay Area Reporter
Jason Victor Serinus
Ayre's breathtaking journey
Osvaldo Golijov is the rare composer who can create gorgeous alchemical syntheses from multicultural texts, ancient musical forms and contemporary concerns... Ayre stuns the senses as it combines acoustic instruments and electronic sound design with the wonders of Upshaw's artistry... Ayre speaks to the heart of the cultural clashes that threaten to destroy us. Ending with a traditional Sephardic romance that bespeaks the pain of separation, personal, political and spiritual entwine. Ayre's soul-touching beauty reminds us that the joys and passions of embodiment can transcend the illusion of difference.
San Jose Mercury News
Richard Scheinin
 Crazily ravishing... carrying an earthy, almost biblical punch. Upshaw inspected and caressed words, spat and coughed them out, ululated and buzzed them, moaned and shredded them..."Ayre," is a significant and relevant rumination on exile and history.
Shirley Fleming
 ...Instrumental textures thickened and vocal challenges—if possible—grew with the arrival after intermission of Golijov's "Ayre," which added horn, double bass, accordion, guitar, and electronic "sound design" to the ensemble. Golijov, who wrote the cycle as a counterpart to Berio's, drew his sounds and lyrical contours from the Christian, Jewish, and Arab cultures of Spain, with the added spice of his Argentinean background much in evidence—Latin American rhythms, flamenco, tango are often in the background, just out of sight but not quite hidden. The language of the 45-minute cycle embraces Ladino (of the Spanish Jews), along with Aramaic and Arabic.

Through songs of love, battle, regret, yearning, and even an account of a mother who "roasted and ate her cherished son," the melismatic vocal line soars, wails, sways. A number called "Tancas Cerradas a muru" (Walls are encircling the Land) explodes in ferociously stomping rhythms, emphasized by amplification. Most of the songs sound modal, all have an aura of the exotic...
Berkshire Eagle
Andrew Pincus
'Ayre' offers a lament for a lost time and civilization in which harmony reignedA statement at one timeless and contemporary... "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. [more]
Clifton J. Noble, Jr.
Dawn Upshaw delivers golden performanceThe ensemble flowed organically without apparent leadership, moving seamlessly from texture to texture, mood to mood, stepping forward into the acoustic spotlight where appropriate (Krakauer blew a wild klezmer chorus early in the piece), feeding on Upshaw's intensity and emotion, and feeding her sound and power. [more]
The Boston Globe
Richard Dyer
...full of passion, humor, tragedy and all the complexity of life.  [more]
Boston Herald
T.J. Medrek
 It's becoming clearer with every new piece that Golijov is fast becoming one of the most important composers for voice today - and that Upshaw is both his perfect muse and prophet...  [more]