Hannigan de Leeuw Vienna album Alpha

Reviews Vienna: Fin de Siècle: “hypnotic”, “sensual”, “thrilling immediacy”


The Times
(5 out of 5 stars)
Geoff Brown, 21 September 2018
Feverish poetry performed by a seriously sensuous soprano
“Barbara Hannigan and pianist Reinbert de Leeuw cast a spell with Vienna: Fin de Siècle
“It’s clear from this hypnotic and lovely album that the Canadian soprano is a powerful singer of late romantic lieder”
“De Leeuw’s piano playing, gently crisp and penetrating, casts its own spell”
“Highlights? The rich, rotting tonality of Schoenberg’s Op 2 songs; the half voice showcased in Webern’s Am Ufer; the pungent variety of the Zemlinsky selection; and Hannigan’s expressive intensity in Hugo Wolf. Listener concentration is needed, and the furrow the album ploughs is narrow. Even so, great rewards await.”


03 October 2018
“Le duo chant-piano fonctionne admirablement. En empathie musicale et amicale, attentifs au sens autant qu’à la sensibilité de chacune de ces pièces, Hannigan et de Leeuw nous font (re)découvrir un petit théâtre sensuel et raffiné.”

Financial Times
(4 out of 5 stars)
Richard Fairman, 05 October 2018
“Hannigan, with her angelic voice, is always ready to go where other angels fear to tread.”
“Tactfully accompanied by Reinbert de Leeuw, a modern music specialist (though usually as a conductor), she brings to them a delicacy that is at once fragile and tremulously intense.”
“the Webern, her seven Zemlinsky songs and four by Alma Mahler have an intoxicating beauty. Hannigan’s hypnotic singing makes fin de siècle Vienna feel like a city of dreams. Freud would be proud of her.”

Le Monde

Pierre Gervasoni, 14 September 2018
“Leur mise en perspective dans le genre du lied est encore plus édifiante qu’à l’accoutumée, car Barbara Hannigan aborde chaque monologue poétique comme une prise de rôle à l’opéra. L’identification la plus forte s’effectue au bénéfice d’Alban Berg (dont la chanteuse a incarné sur scène une Lulu d’exception), mais la restitution des autres formes de lyrisme (ample avec Arnold Schoenberg, trouble avec Anton Webern, fiévreux avec Alexander von Zemlinsky) repose aussi sur un vécu authentique (approfondi avec Hugo Wolf, immédiat avec Alma Mahler). Et sur le piano de Reinbert de Leeuw, véritable Pygmalion de la soprano canadienne tant il l’a dirigée, comme chef d’orchestre, depuis leur première rencontre dans les années 1990 aux Pays-Bas.”


Top 50 best albums of 2018, all genres
December 2018
#10: Barbara Hannigan – Vienna: Fin de Siècle (Classical)
“A regular guest in our annual list, and often also in the top ten. We can’t help it either, but we have Barbara Hannigan again. The Canadian soprano and conductor scores this time in collaboration with our own classical giant Reinbert de Leeuw. Together they make the difficult, sultry repertoire from the fin de siècle beautifully translucent. And to get into the atmosphere of these top ten: Alma Mahler, the woman, beats the gentlemen on this album.”

NPR Music

Best Classical Music Albums of 2018
December 2018
“Arnold Schoenberg’s “Schenk mir deinen goldenen Kamm” (Give Me Your Golden Comb) offers a kind of sacred sensuality, as Jesus shares an intimate moment with Mary Magdalene. Hannigan’s tone at the final cry of “Magdalene” is an object lesson in how to color the voice with emotion. She sweetens her sound in Zemlinsky’s gorgeous “Empfägnis” (Conception), while in Anton Webern’s compact “Am Ufer” (On the Shore), every overripe note is charged with anticipation. Songs by Alma Mahler are a welcome addition, especially “Licht in der Nacht” (Light in the Night), where Hannigan offers a beautiful, darkly colored singing line. With painter-like touches, pianist Reinbert de Leeuw excels in every searching harmony, every lonely pause between notes.”

Opera Now
(5 out of 5 stars)
Album of the month, November 2018
November 2018
“The force of nature that is Barbara Hannigan – performer, conductor, mentor, director – pauses long enough to provide us with one of the most delicious recitals of the year. Fin de Siècle focuses on the final Viennese swoon of tonality before musical revolution gate-crashed the party; songs from Schoenberg, Webern, Berg, Zemlinsky, Alma Mahler and Wolf. Exquisitely overwrought poetry set to the most luscious music, and, with 31 items, a generous offering. Hannigan and her pianist, Reinbert de Leeuw, work seamlessly together to create a magical sound world. Her voice has a surprising richness, almost voluptuous, for the Schoenberg and Berg, but she adopts a far more blanched tone for the Webern. And she certainly isn’t afraid to use portamenti but resists swooping and scooping, always maintaining a sense of line and destination. It would be easy for the whole exercise to become syrupy, but Hannigan provides a certain welcome astringency to keep things sharp. In this she is abetted by de Leeuw, who is happy to fade into the background when highlighting his soprano, or to take centre stage with a judicious effect. What could become drowsy or blowsy is given a clean and elegant reading, a real case of intelligent performance proving that sometimes less really can he more.”


December 2018
“compelling, fascinating singing”
“supremely seductive”

The Guardian
(4 out of 5 stars)
Andrew Clements, 27 September 2018
“Hannigan’s voice wraps itself lovingly around these vocal lines, savouring every chromatic morsel, and sometimes bleaching her tone until it comes close to sprechgesang.”
“she conveys the trembling fragility and pastel colours of this music with such perfect tact, and De Leeuw measures the accompaniments so precisely, leaving their unresolved dissonances hanging in space, that a whole expressive world seems perfectly evoked.”

BBC Music Magazine

4* Performance / 4* Recording
“Hannigan’s luminous voice perfectly suits this music. She conveys the uneasy, almost unhinged feel of the fin de siecle not only in her lyric singing, but also in her crooning, swooping, sliding, whispering and weeping”
“the seven Zemlinsky songs were a revelation. ‘Da waren zwei Kinder’ and the tumultuous `Entbietung’ also elicit a new, weightier sound from Hannigan. ‘Tralingstag’ is exquisitely, unforgettably beautiful”

NRC Handelsblad
(5 out of 5 stars)
10 October 2018
“Since their internationally acclaimed Satie CD (2016), Barbara Hannigan and Reinbert de Leeuw are known as an exceptional song duo. On their long-awaited second album Vienna: Fin de Siècle, they more than live up to their reputation.”

L’air du jour Musikzen

Franck Mallet, 2 October 2018
“La soprano Barbara Hannigan n’a peut-être jamais été aussi proche de la perfection, entre extase – les étapes successives des Sept lieder de jeunesse de Berg – et volupté – élégiaque Empfängnis op. 2 de Zemlinsky ! Aigu enchanteur dans Berg, parole feutrée dans Zemlinsky entre chant parlé et lyrisme empourpré, sobriété tumultueuse dans Webern (Himmelfahrt d’après Dehmel) et envoûtement dans Wolf (Mignon I-IV) : aucun souffle intempestif, le chant à l’état pur, éclatant et magnifique, guidé par le piano distingué (mais peu engagé dans Wolf), de Reinbert de Leeuw, fin connaisseur de ce répertoire. Un absolu.”


CD der Woche
Christian Lahneck, 2 October 2018
“Ob in Bergs „Sieben frühen Liedern“ oder in Wolfs „Mignon“-Vertonungen – das Duo Hannigan/de Leeuw funktioniert prächtig und findet für das Repertoire dieser Scharnier-Epoche zwischen 19. und 20. Jahrhundert die etliche Farben. Heimliches Zentrum sind Weberns „Dehmel-Lieder“, die exemplarisch stehen für die Klangfacetten dieses Albums: geheimnisvoll schleichende Harmonien, zart-gläserne Dynamik, klare Tongebung.”

Dagens Nyheter

November 2018
“Barbara Hannigan sets your soul on fire”


Die Alben der Woche
Marcus Stäbler, 5 October 2018
“Ein konzeptionell und musikalisch gleichermaßen überzeugenden Albums – auch wenn manchem Hörer für dieses Repertoire hier und da vielleicht ein anderes Timbre mit einer dunkleren Färbung vorschweben mag. Mit ihrer Verbindung aus dramaturgischem Feinsinn, Facettenreichtum und gestalterischer Präsenz bestätigt Barbara Hannigan ihren Ruf als eine der spannendsten Sängerpersönlichkeiten unserer Tage.”


September 2018
“beautifully committed, engaged and nuanced performances of Schoenberg’s Four Songs, op.2 (1899), Webern’s Five Songs on Poems by Richard Dehmel (1906-08), and Berg’s celebrated Seven Early Songs (1907). De Leeuw’s colourful but supremely sensitive piano playing points up fascinating connections between Schoenberg and Debussy in particular, and both he and the ever-involving Hannigan are thoroughly idiomatic in the expressionistic depths of Webern and the more overtly lyrical outpourings of Berg. This is music in which one feels both performers are completely in their element, with singing and playing of thrilling immediacy.”
“Following the trajectory set by the Zemlinsky and Mahler songs, Hannigan and de Leeuw end their programme at the point where, in their view, it all started: Hugo Wolf’s Mignon settings from Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister. … By bidding a tender farewell with Wolf’s extraordinarily prescient music, Hannigan and de Leeuw seem to be inviting us to listen again to the whole programme in the light of its discoveries and connections.”
“And return to it again the listener surely will. … there are few that combine such a sense of sheer involvement, at foreground and deep-background levels, with such a complete awareness of, and identification with, the fin-de-siècle mindset. For that reason alone, lovers of 20th-century art song need to hear this disc. They will find it an immensely rewarding and thought-provoking experience: from these musicians, one would expect no less!”

The Sunday Times

16 September 2018
“Collections by Schoenberg (Four Songs, Op 2), Berg (Seven Early Songs) and Webern (the 1908 Dehmel settings) open the programme, but equally impressive are examples by Zemlinsky, Alma Mahler and Wolf. Hannigan and de Leeuw command this mysterious, disturbingly shaded and sensual music with aptly teasing restraint.”

MusicWeb International

Michael Cookson, October 2018
“Hannigan’s focused soprano has a seductively appealing tone which is bright and fluid. Her superb singing is outstanding in itself but, beyond this, her overall performances are both stylish and accurate without, thankfully, sounding studied. Almost living the text, Hannigan’s performances are beguiling and seem to communicate the essence of fin de siècle Vienna, a city at the forefront of advances in so many fields.”
“My programme highlights include Schoenberg’s Waldsonne, where Hannigan so beautifully depicts the expression of love in the idealised pastoral imagery of Johannes Schlaf’s text. Standing out, too, is Webern’s Nächtliche Scheu, one of his Dahmel settings and another meaningful expression of love, an eerie nocturne cloaked in mystery. One certainly feels the closeness of Hannigan’s partnership with pianist Leeuw, who as well as being her accompanist is her mentor. In truth, I enjoyed all the settings which have clearly been judiciously chosen. This studio recording produced at Muziekcentrum van de Omroep, Hilversum is first class – crystal clear with gratifying presence and balance. The booklet essay, in the form of a conversation between Hannigan and Leeuw, is interesting and informative.
Containing beautiful late-Romantic Lieder, superbly performed by Hannigan and Leeuw, ‘Vienna: Fin de Siècle’ is a special album.”


November 2018
“Ainsi dès l’op. 2 de Schoenberg, la voix sensuelle et caressante de Barbara Hannigan opère, avec sa flexibilité et la finesse de ses inflexions. Le piano de Reinbert de Leeuw garde ses distances, errant sous la voix avec cette « pâleur » lunaire qu’évoque les poèmes de Richard Dehmel (Erwartung), en préservant l’intimité de ton recherchée.”
“Avec une intonation toujours très sûre, la voix épouse souplement le profil exigeant de la ligne, assumant les écarts de registre sans la moindre tension. C’est un lyrisme plus incarné qui souffle dans les superbes Sieben früher Lieder d’Alban Berg.”
“La voix d’Hannigan s’y déploie avec une grâce inégalée, collant au texte avec une rare sensibilité et des demi-teintes fort subtiles (Licht in der Nacht). Les mots qui finissent par être susurrés invitent à une écoute plus attentive.”
“Plus encore que dans le célèbre Kennst du das Land qui referme l’album, c’est dans Mignon III que les deux artistes subjuguent : avec ces tintements voilés dans les aigus du piano (Schubert demeure) et la déclamation exemplaire de la voix qui monte en crescendo jusqu’au dernier vers, « Rendez-moi ma jeunesse, et pour l’éternité ».”

Pizzicato Magazine
26 November 2018
Hannigan ist eine sensuelle Interpretin, deren heller Sopran wie „es hat die Nachtigall die ganze Nacht gesungen“ im gleichnamigen Berg Lied erklingt.”
“Reinbert de Leeuw ist ein in der Musik des zwanzigstens Jahrhunderts erfahrener Dirigent, der hier als Pianist eine zugleich sensible Begleitrolle als auch die mit dieser Entwicklung des Kunstliedes verbundene Hervorhebung pianistischer Aufgaben überzeugend vermittelt. Beide zusammen machen die Stimmung der Zeit intensiv erfahrbar.”

(4 out of 5 stars)
12 September 2018
“D’une écriture globalement postromantique, le climat y est fiévreux, complexe et changeant, inspiré par des poètes où Dehmel et Goethe l’emportent, le second saisi par Wolf à travers les sublimes poèmes de Mignon. Les interprètes sont des géants, doublant chacun la maîtrise de leur instrument d’une expérience de chef d’orchestre: bercée ou propulsée par le piano de Reinbert de Leeuw, Barbara Hannigan est d’une créativité incroyable. Et qu’importent les quelques failles de justesse et de stabilité, la voix est à la fois céleste et incarnée et le récit, intensément habité.”

The Scotsman
(4 out of 5 stars)
Fiona Shepherd, 3 October 2018
“This collection of 18 songs by Schoenberg (Vier Lieder, Op2), Webern (Fünf Lieder), Berg (Sieben Frühe Lieder), Zemlinsky (Lieder Op 2,5,7), Wolf (Mignon 1-4) and Alma Mahler (including Die stille Stadt), sung with alluring self-control by Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan with Dutch pianist Reinbert de Leeuw, contains all that symbolised the musical spirit of that time and place: dark sensuality, ambiguous unease, and that unmistakable premonition of all that was to shake the world in 1914.”


September 2018
“It is Hannigan and De Leeuw who, with rare finesse, evoke a special musical language, in which the then still endless possibilities of a new dynamic and characterful semantics are explored.”