Reviews: let me tell you with the London Symphony Orchestra


Reviews of let me tell you
Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra
9 & 10 January 2019, Barbican Hall

The Times

Niel Fisher, 14 January 2019
(4 out of 5 stars)

“It would take a long time to absorb all the tiny details from Abrahamsen’s similarly intricate drama, written for the soprano Barbara Hannigan. Let me tell you is an enigmatic but haunting monodrama inspired by Hamlet: Hannigan sings Ophelia’s words from the play, but — to quote Eric Morecambe — not necessarily in the right order. If it is, at first, a chilly soundscape, you thaw as the piece does, as the icy percussion, celesta and vibraphone slowly cede ground. Hannigan sings of “glass in which there are showers of light” and at this the music cracks into myriad colours, as if refracted from a broken shard. As hypnotically steered by Hannigan and Rattle the piece follows you long after its dusty, hushed conclusion.”

The Guardian

Andrew Clements, 11 January 2019

“Abrahamsen’s masterpiece soars”
“Sung as seraphically as ever by Barbara Hannigan for whom the cycle was composed, Let Me Tell You was the centrepiece of Simon Rattle’s latest London Symphony Orchestra programme. It seemed as bewitching as ever.”


Alexander Hall, 11 January 2019

Diamonds in the snow: Rattle, Hannigan and the LSO
“Few contemporary song-cycles have created as big a stir as Hans Abrahamsen’s let me tell you premiered in 2013. This has as much to do with the intensity of emotional expression in the half-hour work as the extraordinarily effective orchestration. It is the kind of piece that sends shivers down the spine.”
“Hannigan moved like a master surgeon through the score, deploying the icy blade of a razor-sharp scalpel with unerring skill. She laid bare the multi-layering of Ophelia’s inner torment before tracing her descent first into darkness and then madness until, by the close of the seventh and final song, where individual notes hung in the air seemingly for an eternity, she had completely lost herself in a hallucinatory search for her lover deep in a snowy landscape. The control she exercised was itself mesmerising, her high notes perfectly pitched at the words “Snow falls”, each physical gesture used sparingly but to maximum effect. Not the least of the haunting orchestral qualities was the rustle of paper on a steel pan over wide stretches of the final song where, in Christina Rossetti’s words, “frosty wind made moan”. Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra gave sterling support to their outstanding soloist.”

The Arts Desk

Boyd Tonkin, 11 January 2019

Hannigan, LSO, Rattle, Barbican review – the sublime and the beautiful
“Abrahamsen’s let me tell you confirmed its rare power as a contemporary work that partners eerie lyric grace with a startling original musical palette of colours. They beguile but unsettle in the same, frozen breath. As so often with Abrahamsen, this is winter music, from the resonating icicles we hear at the start from piccolo and celeste to the brass that rips and groans like melting polar floes. Griffiths’s text, however, re-engineers Ophelia’s laments so that her words become not a hymn to suicide but a song of survival: “I will go on in the snow/ I will have my hope with me.”
“Abrahamsen’s music skates around the edges of conventional tonality until, towards the end, microtones blossom into lovely, unearthly frost-flowers of delicate sound. Hannigan’s superb advocacy of this work, thoroughly assured even at the topmost peaks of the soprano range, has made it very much her own.”

Classical Source

Antony Hodgson, January 2019

“Hannigan explored the heights and depths miraculously”

Seen and Heard International

Chris Sallon, 14 January 2019

“Barbara Hannigan, who could be heard last year at Glyndebourne as Ophelia in Brett Dean’s Hamlet, is a coloratura with an icy, almost ultrasonic, upper register and perfect pitch. Her voice, hovering ethereally above the orchestra, blended perfectly with the composition’s instrumental colours, and introduced a mystical quality to lines like ‘What is music, if not time’ and ‘Night, day: there is no difference for me.”

photo credit: The Guardian – Mark Allen