On Sept. 9, Barbara Hannigan premiered the new John Zorn piece Star Catcher (for soprano, piano and improvising rhythm group) at the Lausitz Festival in Germany. Two days later, she sang and conducted the Francis Poulenc opera La voix humaine in Wroclaw, Poland. And this weekend she’s in Milan and Turin, Italy to sing/conduct Mahler’s 4th Symphony with Rome’s Santa Cecilia Orchestra.
Just another week or so in the life the Grammy-achieving dynamo from Waverley, N.S. It’s hard to believe Hannigan is able to fit personal listening moments into her stacked schedule, but she was asked to supply The Globe and Mail with the music she’s currently grooving to, anyway. Turns out, the superstar soprano has all the time in the world for sounds from a renowned German orchestra, a sublime Beninese singer-songwriter, a virtuosic French pianist and a Pulitzer Prize-winning rapper.
Maurice Ravel: Orchestral Works (2022), by Stéphane Denève and the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra. “I had to stop the car and pull over near my house in Bretagne, France, a few weeks ago. Radio France was playing this new recording and I was hearing Ravel’s La Valse as I had never heard it. All the decadence and the dark and light of this glorious piece of music were brought to life in this fantastic recording.”
Mother Nature (2021), by Angélique Kidjo. “I met Angélique a few months ago during the same festival in Italy and was free on the night she was performing. We had met once before, but this time there was time for a delicious lunch together and lots of laughs. Seeing her perform live filled me with joy. She truly fulfills her vocation, is an inspiring force of nature and brings harmony to the world.”
Messiaen: Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus (2022), by Bertrand Chamayou. “Bertrand and I have been working together for a couple of years now, performing and recording music of the French composer Olivier Messiaen for an upcoming album for Alpha Classics. We travelled to the French Alps last July, where Messiaen used to live and work at times, and performed a recital at the church where Messiaen used to worship. The night before our concert, Bertrand played a breathtaking solo recital of Vingt regards. It felt as if we all had been transformed by the performance we had witnessed. The recording is no less magical than his live performance of this legendary work for solo piano.”
Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers (2022), by Kendrick Lamar. “This was a huge shock to my system with its astounding construction, energy and freedom. I can’t stop listening to it. I’m very jealous that my nephew in Surrey, B.C., managed to get to his concert recently in Vancouver.”