This is a fascinating CD, containing two song cycles--one brand new, by Osvaldo Golijov, and one dating from 1964, by Luciano Berio. Berios's is a setting of folk songs from several countries, including France, Italy, America, and Sardinia. Golijov's songs are in Spanish, but they cross Christian, Jewish, and Arab cultures. The Berio arrangements contain nicely odd harmonic cadences in the accompaniments. Dawn Upshaw sings them simply and directly, albeit in what might be called a traditional operatic, if low-keyed, fashion. Golijov's songs are strange, daring, and magnificent, in composition, accompaniment, rhythm, and vocal delivery. To be sure, Upshaw uses an operatic sound for much of the cycle, but she lets loose with some of the most remarkable yelps, hoots, and bellows to express the texts and situations as well. The songs vary: some are prayers, some folk songs, some lullabies. Golijov orchestrates with accordion, horn, laptop computer (electronica), flute, violin, viola, and more--and the sounds fit the words. 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.
— Robert Levine