Reviews Crazy Girl Crazy: “Stunning debut” “phenomenal” “madly compelling listen”


De Volkskrant
(5 out of 5 stars)
Frits van der Waa, 29 September 2017
Hannigan has the capacity to become legendary as a conductor
“Whether she sings or conducts, Hannigan is phenomenal. She does both with great ease”
“It results in a highly charged performance in which color and expression are fully present.”
“Hannigan, now in her mid-forties, is already legendary as a singer. She has the potential to achieve the same status as a conductor.”

The Times
(4 out of 5 stars)
Neil Fisher, 29 September 2017
“It begins with Hannigan solo, in Luciano Berio’s 1965 Sequenza III, something of an avant-garde talisman for the wilder diva: here are gasps, moans, manic trills, weird clicks, jabbering coloratura, a syllable soup. The bright sheen of Hannigan’s voice — and that she has slightly transposed the piece up — gives the work more of a girlish tint: this voice could just about belong to one of opera’s bel-canto heroines, but one who has been wound up like a spinning top and is manically pirouetting around the stage. Sequenza III comes up fresh and exhilarating.”
“Intelligent, invigorating, Crazy Girl Crazy is a madly compelling listen.”


September 2017
“Un tour de force”
“Barbara Hannigan suscite aussi l’admiration pour l’intelligence de sa direction musicale.”

Disc of the Week

September 2017
“On this stunning label debut on Alpha Classics, Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan takes multi-tasking to new levels. Not only does she sing and conduct Berg’s technically and emotionally demanding Lulu Suite, as well as performing Luciano Berio’s dazzlingly virtuosic Sequenza III for solo voice. She has also (together with Bill Elliott) arranged a marvellous new suite from George Gershwin’s Girl Crazy, brilliantly orchestrated by Elliott. Furthermore, she and the Ludwig Orchestra (a flexible Dutch ensemble collective) succeed triumphantly in presenting a coherent programme that binds these seemingly disparate works together.”

“Berio originally composed Sequenza III (1965) for the legendary Cathy Berberian, but Hannigan steps out boldly from under that long-reaching shadow, transposing the work up (as allowed by Berio’s score) to tap into a girl-like image of the imagined 15-year-old Lulu. Hannigan negotiates the huge challenges of this avant garde score – with its vocal clicks, breathless vowels, enigmatically fractured text, and wide dynamic and pitch ranges – with seeming effortlessness (in fact, it must reflect many hours of hard work). She is by turns playful, coquettish, wistful and reflective, and the result is as absorbing and convincing as it is challenging.
And it makes for a brilliant curtain-raiser (in the manner of an imagined prequel) to the Lulu Suite itself. Here Hannigan – who has portrayed Lulu on stage to great acclaim – is completely at one with the Ludwig players, and a clearly happy working relationship is reflected in performance of remarkable emotional openness, lyricism and sensuousness.”

“These are sophisticated, witty arrangements, rounded off with an exuberant, jazzy, big-band version of ‘I got rhythm’: it’s the cherry on the cake of a tremendously entertaining disc which explores real emotional depths as well as delighting the ear.
Add to all this a classy recording from the Alpha team, attractive presentation and a bonus 20-minute behind-the-scenes DVD, and this wonderfully crazy disc deserves every success.”

WDR 3 TonArt
CD-Rezension (Audio)
6 October 2017


Dagmar Penzlin, 5 October 2017
“Klar im Zentrum des Albums steht Bergs “Lulu”-Suite. Barbara Hannigan dirigiert die fünf Sätze aus dem Geist des Gesamtwerks heraus und der genauen Kenntnis der Partitur. Sie weiß, wofür und für wen bestimmte Tonfolgen, Klänge und Instrumente stehen. Entsprechend arbeitet sie gemeinsam mit dem Ludwig Orchestra, einem freien Ensemble, den Charakter und die Vielschichtigkeit im Grunde jedes einzelnen Taktes prägnant heraus. Die geheimnisvolle Eleganz von Bergs Musik entfaltet ihre volle Kraft.”
“Barbara Hannigan als Dirigentin und Sängerin formt gemeinsam mit dem Ludwig Orchestra souverän die Musiken Bergs, Berios und Gershwins zu einem reizvollen Stationendrama. Aus den Klängen heraus, kraftvoll, intensiv.”


Klara’s 10
Sylvia Broeckaert, 17 October 2017
“She is a phenomenon, the Canadian opera singer and conductor Barbara Hannigan …. She performs, dances and sings at a high professional level, and this also applies to her as conductor.”
“Welcome to Barbara Hannigan’s fascinating musical and emotional world, you will discover sophistication, lightness and depth in unforgettable 20th-century repertoire.”

(4 out of 5 stars)
Réjean Beaucage, 2 October 2017
“La soprano canadienne Barbara Hannigan a fait sensation ces dernières années avec quelques-unes de ses interprétations spectaculaires, dirigeant les musiciens tout en chantant (voir la vidéo plus bas). Elle joint ici pour la première fois sur disque ses deux passions, direction et chant, dans un programme qu’elle ouvre cependant en solo avec Sequenza III, de Luciano Berio, qui lui permet de déployer tout l’arsenal vocal dont elle dispose. C’est ensuite devant le Ludwig Orchestra, d’Amsterdam, qu’elle chante et dirige Lulu Suite d’Alban Berg, offrant une interprétation impeccable. Le programme se termine avec la Girl Crazy Suite, arrangée avec le concours de l’orchestrateur Bill Elliott d’après la comédie musicale de George et Ira Gershwin. Servie avec la même instrumentation que celle de Berg, la musique de Gershwin est d’une tout autre couleur, mais la chef et la chanteuse y brillent tout autant.”

Financial Times
(4 out of 5 stars)
Richard Fairman, 29 September 2017
“Multitasking is second nature to Barbara Hannigan. The most versatile of stage performers, she not only sings on this disc, but conducts, whimpers and mutters, whispers and shrieks. The latter occur in Berio’s Sequenza III, a virtuoso solo for soprano that does not involve conventional singing. Berg’s Lulu Suite gets a romantic performance, strong on limpid, singing lines from the Ludwig Orchestra.”

Le Babillard

Loïc Chahine, 16 October 2017
“Que Barbara Hannigan soit une des grandes chanteuses de notre temps, plus personne n’en doute. … Barbara Hannigan n’est pas qu’une chanteuse pleine de talent, c’est une musicienne d’une grande intelligence.”
“De la Sequenza 3, l’on dira qu’elle semble, conformément au propos de Berio, un véritable dialogue, un dialogue dont on ne percevrait distinctement que les réactions, marquées en particulier par une abondance de rires et quelques soupirs. Avec l’apparence que tout cela sort sans difficulté, Barbara Hannigan montre d’emblée tout ce qu’elle sait faire. Le disque s’ouvre donc sur un tableau pétillant.
Dans la Lulu Suite de Berg, Barbara Hannigan endosse non seulement le rôle de chanteuse pour la chanson de Lulu et les quelques phrases de la comtesse Geschwitz dans le dernier mouvement, mais aussi celui de cheffe de l’Orchestre Ludwig. Dans les parties chantées, l’aisance est une fois de plus flagrante, doublée d’une intensité dramatique palpable.”
“De fait, l’ensemble du disque ressemble bien à une gourmandise, une gourmandise de luxe, d’une grande richesse, mais qui, tout de même, se laisse dévorer avec délices — des délices amoureuses.”

Presto Classical

Katherine Cooper, September 2017
“The Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan, though, is something else, and for her debut recording on Alpha she’s devised and directed a programme of music by three composers I never thought I’d see sharing the billing on a soprano album: Berio, Berg and Gershwin. But Crazy Girl Crazy is no ordinary ‘soprano album’ – it’s all built around one of Hannigan’s signature-roles (Berg’s mercurial Lulu), but the emphasis is firmly on the music itself and the story which binds these three unlikely bedfellows together rather than on the unconventional diva herself.

“The Suite from Berg’s Lulu (with Hannigan singing the roles of both the eponymous anti-heroine and the Countess who loves and dies with her) seems to emerge organically from the Sequenza, and the transition into the new Gershwin Suite is hardly less seamless – using the same orchestration as Berg, Hannigan and Elliott play up the affinity between Berg’s jazz-inflected score and the big band sound-world of Girl Crazy so that the link (which could sound contrived on paper) comes across as entirely natural.”

“This is a fascinating Portrait of the Artist as a Woman both young and mature, a sequence of songs of innocence and experience which capitalises on both the eternally girlish qualities which have become a hallmark of Hannigan’s artistry and the formidable musical authority which she’s built up over a career immersed in the complexities of contemporary music. It’s also a hugely alluring listening experience, and I strongly urge you to give in and embrace the ‘craziness’.”
Recording of the Week

Andreas Falentin, 12 October 2017
“Die kanadische Sopranistin Barbara Hannigan ist eine Ausnahmeerscheinung in der internationalen Opernwelt, eine so rückhaltlose wie charismatische Interpretin und Darstellerin vor allem modernen und modernsten Repertoires. Und eine erstklassige Dirigentin. Ihr erstes wirkliches Recital geht von ihrer Signaturrolle aus, Alban Bergs „Lulu“. Vom niederländischen Ludwig Orchestra besessen und dennoch entspannt musiziert, von Hannigan dynamisch und freizügig dirigiert und intonationsrein und ausdrucksstark gesungen, erscheinen die gleichnamige Suite, Gershwins neu arrangierte Jazz-Standards und Berios „Sequenza III“ für Solo-Sopran tatsächlich als drei swingende Seiten einer Medaille, drücken Lebensfreude und Individualität, Fremdartigkeit und auch Gefangenschaft aus. Die auf DVD beigegebene, durchaus attraktive Dokumentation bringt vor allem Barbara Hannigans künstlerisches Credo auf den Punkt: „Taking Risks!“”

The Guardian
(4 out of 5 stars)
Kate Molleson, 14 September 2017
“her effortless style is bewitching”
“fierce musicianship”


Tim Ashley, October 2017
“One of music’s great risk-takers”
“It’s a beautiful performance” (Berio)


Maarten Brandt, September 2017
“Barbara Hannigan is an equally unique phenomenon as Lulu is: a true wonder of nature. She already proved that in the Brussels La Monnaie production… on this CD she proves it again. Not only in her capacity as a singer, but also as a conductor. And how! She presents an extremely stimulating programme that is like clockwork, both musically and dramatically.”
“Included is the short film by Mathieu Amalric, Hannigan’s partner, which provides a perfect visual and auditory reflection. It is a beautiful collage of rehearsal fragments of all three works performed … the movie is actually a composition, read: a visual reflection of the music and all its layers.”
“The performance of the Ludwig Orchestra is of unprecedented high quality.”
“To sum up, it will be crazy if Crazy girl crazy doesn’t win lots of awards.”