Barbara Hannigan and Reinbert de Leeuw: recital reviews


In November 2017, Barbara performed with Reinbert de Leeuw in the United States and Canada with two recital programs. Their main recital program included lieder in turn-of-the-century Vienna, with songs by Wolf, Schoenberg, Webern, Zemlinsky, Alma Mahler, and Berg. The second program, exclusively for Park Avenue Armory in New York, was all Satie: Hannigan recorded many of the works on an album with de Leeuw in 2016, with early and naïve songs from Satie’s youth, moving through the esoteric and mystical period which culminated in Satie’s creation of his own church, and finally the introspective settings of Plato’s texts on Socrates, Satie’s last major work.


“Barbara Hannigan’s Legend Grows in an Intimate Setting”
“To speak of her singing only begins to cover the ground, and not just because she has also taken up conducting. Her physical manner can be electric.”
“Especially impressive was the way she scaled down her voice for the Satie, singing — at times almost speaking — with a natural tone, warm, pure, beautiful and highly sophisticated for all its seeming artlessness. Her French pronunciation was impeccable, just as her German had been in the earlier recital.”
New York Times Arts, 19 November 2017

“Barbara Hannigan is an artist who sings. You can see it from the moment she comes out on stage”
Washington Post, November 2017

“Hannigan is one of those rare performers whose presence fuses so completely with the music that, while she’s onstage, hers seems the only possible interpretation.”, 17 November 2017

“It’s no wonder she’s new classical music’s greatest working muse—her voice is a cool, glistening, misty gossamer web of sound. The innate fluidity with which she moves between notes across her range, from earthier lower reaches to a sensuous, floral upper register is a marvel.”
“but the most notable was “Die Nachtigall,” in which each successive stanza built to more powerful finish. The song, about a nightingale whose song provokes the mocking natural beauty of a loveless world, reached a glorious ending on the phrase “Die Rosen aufgesprungen”—“the roses have sprung up.” Listening to Hannigan often feels that way.”
“the highlight of the evening was four Mahler (Alma Mahler, to be exact) songs, and it wasn’t even for their vocalization. In four erratic, moody songs by another one of history’s great muses, Hannigan pushes past the musical deficiencies of the songs—they’re simply not very interesting—and hones in on the texts by Dehmel, Falke, Heine, and Birnbaum. Suddenly, the songs were the painful laments, pleas, and longings of a woman deeply insecure in relationships.”
Parterre Box, 15 November 2017

“Hannigan sang with supreme delicacy, with her trademark silvery tone, in an unhurried, languid manner, the phrasing always fluid, the tone caressing. It created a mesmerizing, otherworldly effect.”
“De Leeuw’s masterful playing was a model of sensitivity, his lightness of touch matching the singer note for note.”
“It was all the more amazing that Koerner Hall was virtually full, a testament to the reputation of the soloist. Hannigan is arguably the most important soprano champion of new music of the current generation, having premiered some 80 contemporary works, many written specifically for her voice.”, 12 November 2017

photo credit: Da Ping Luo / The New York Times