Whether singing, conducting, dancing or acting, the Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan is an endless source of fascination. Alpha Classics is proud to enter her world and present her very first album as both singer and conductor. With the Amsterdam-based orchestra Ludwig, of which she is associate artist, Barbara Hannigan has devised a programme including Berg’s Lulu Suite, music from Gershwin’s Girl Crazy - in a new arrangement by the multi-award-winning American composer Bill Elliott - and, to complement these two pieces, she opens the album with Berio’s spectacular Sequenza III for solo voice.
An outstanding soprano, a distinguished interpreter of the music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, a ground-breaking musician who creates a sensation on concert platforms and in opera houses throughout the world, Barbara Hannigan has enriched her palette over the past few years by devoting a large part of her career to conducting.
This album, entitled Crazy Girl Crazy, binds together the character of Lulu, a pivotal role in Barbara Hannigan’s career, with the heroines of Gershwin’s musical comedies and their famous songs such as Embraceable You and I Got Rhythm, and Sequenza III, Berio’s incredible musical sculpture built from words and the female voice: the result is an album that forms an evocative portrait of the artist.
Barbara Hannigan comments “Crazy Girl Crazy is a hall of mirrors, with Berio’s Sequenza III and Gershwin's Girl Crazy Suite serving as reflections of Lulu from varying angles and stages of her life. Her blood runs through the veins of all three works presented here. Musically, the jazz elements would be one obvious link between the pieces by Berg and Gershwin, as well as the lush vocal themes and the urgency of the extreme emotional content, but it is the larger concept of human beings in crazy love and obsession, in the midst of maddening heartbreak, searching for home, and finding it in the rhythm of their own heartbeat, which connects the music.”
For this recording, Barbara Hannigan called on an orchestra with which she has had a very special rapport ever since it was founded in 2011: Ludwig, a collective composed of the finest instrumentalists from the leading Dutch and international orchestras, which dares to stage quirky, innovative programmes.
The very first moments of the rehearsals for Crazy Girl Crazy were filmed by Mathieu Amalric, the celebrated French actor and director who won the Best Director Award at the Cannes Festival in 2010 for his film On Tour (Tournée) as well as a special award created at Cannes in 2017, the ‘prize for the poetry of cinema’, for his latest film. Mathieu Amalric first met the soprano when they worked together on a renowned film for the 3èmeScène programme of the Opéra de Paris. For their on-camera reunion, Amalric plunges into the heart of Barbara and the orchestra, with an intimate look at their journey. Entitled Music is Music, the film has been selected for the 2017 New York Film Festival, and will be screened on 13 October 2017 as part of their Spotlight on Documentary series. The DVD of the film will be included with the album Crazy Girl Crazy.