La Passione – new album Barbara Hannigan & LUDWIG Orchestra

Barbara Hannigan released her second album as soprano and conductor with Dutch orchestra LUDWIG, following on from Crazy Girl Crazy which won the 2018 GRAMMY Award for Best Classical Solo Vocal album.

‘Barbara Hannigan delivers an absolutely gripping account of the monody. [Nono]’
March 27, 2020
‘Hannigan succeeds in making the lyrics immensely expressive and, as conductor and soloist, she inspires her orchestra to a grippingly mysterious interpretation.’ [Grisey]...
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‘Hannigan gives it an emotional intensity that helps it hold its own in the company of Nono and Grisey’ ****
March 27, 2020
Financial Times
‘The spare, exploratory music of Gérard Grisey is a rare bird in standard concert programmes. It is a fair bet that it has never been paired with a Haydn symphony before, but then reaching out in unlikely directions is what Canadian soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan is all about.’ ‘Hannigan holds the programme together through […]...
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‘The result jumps into your ear through the pulse’s explosive theatricality and the emphatic variations in dynamics’ *****
April 3, 2020
‘Le résultat saute à l’oreille à travers la théâtralité explosive de la pulsation et de variations dynamiques appuyées…’...
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‘We easily recognise the mark of the interpreter's commitment to creation, which she has always made a point of serving, both as a singer and as a conductor’
Le Figaro - Instant Classique
On y reconnaîtra sans peine la marque de l’engagement de l’interprète en faveur de la création, qu’elle a toujours mis un point d’honneur à servir, aussi bien en tant que chanteuse qu’en tant que cheffe....
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‘The singer's extraordinary agility and the care she takes over the slightest note makes the page resemble a sanctification of pain’
April 3, 2020
Le Monde
‘L’agilité extraordinaire de la chanteuse et le soin qu’elle porte à la moindre note apparentent cette page à une sanctification de la douleur.’...
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‘Barbara Hannigan is a total wonder, but which of this Canadian’s gifts do you worship first? Is it the strength and purity of her soprano voice? Or the manual and technical dexterity that allows her to sing the most complex music while conducting at the same time? Then there is her flair for adventurous programming, which makes unlikely connections between music from different centuries’ *****
Friday March 27 2020
Geoff Brown - The Times
‘Here is the singing of someone totally unafraid, leaping securely over vast distances, stamina yoked with high emotions.’ ‘Hannigan’s direction of the Ludwig Orchestra, a Dutch ensemble, brings gutsy results’ ‘Beginning with the sounds of mass breathing, ending with a gentle lullaby, Grisey’s mind-expanding piece may focus on death, but it is equally music of […]...
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La Passione juxtaposes works by Luigi Nono (1924-1990), Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) and Gérard Grisey (1946-1998), offering a triptych of perspectives on death and transfiguration. The album opens with Nono’s powerful Djamila Boupacha for solo soprano, inspired by the young Algerian woman who became a symbol of the injustice leading to the French-Algerian war. Hannigan calls the work: “an homage to the courage of a voice. Since I began singing this aria over 10 years ago, it has become part of my exploration of the modern bel canto.”

The album continues with Haydn’s Symphony no. 49, with Hannigan conducting LUDWIG orchestra. The evocative work – later given the epithet La Passione, recalling the universal experience of loss and grieving – is tragic and theatrical in its very nature and considered by the Canadian artist as a journey of souls: the ones enduring on earth and the ones who have departed.

The recording concludes with Gérard Grisey’s striking meditation on death and the afterlife, Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil [Four Songs to Cross the Threshold], which Hannigan sings and conducts. She comments “Confused, tender, angry and curious, full of breath and rhythm, at the edge of technical virtuosity and discipline: these Four Songs for 15 instruments and soprano (let us say, 16 voices) demand everything of us.”

Barbara Hannigan continues: “I have been performing and exploring these works for many years and they have left deep imprints. The vocal writing of Luigi Nono’s Djamila Boupacha echoes the characteristically ‘sturm und drang’ Haydn Symphony no. 49, as well as the peaceful and lyrical moments within the Grisey.”


Luigo Nono Djamila Boupacha (1962)
Joseph Haydn Symphony no. 49 La Passione (1768)
Gerard Grisey Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil (1998)
Barbara Hannigan soprano and conductor
LUDWIG Orchestra