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World Music CD Reviews Europe


By Paul-Emile Comeau
Published October 28, 2005

Deutsche Grammophon 00289 477 5414

Osvaldo Golijov is a composer of Eastern European Jewish heritage who was born in 1960 in Argentina. When the government turned oppressive he moved to Israel, where he became intrigued by Arab culture while in his teens. He later moved to Philadelphia where he studied with George Crumb and he went on to collaborate with the Kronos Quartet, Zakir Hussain, and Gustavo Santaolalla, the latter appearing on this album. Ayre (2004), which means “air” or “melody” in medieval Spanish, is an 11-track song cycle for voice and chamber ensemble that features a few poems but mostly traditional songs, four of which are Sephardic, two more being Christian Arab Easter songs. All feature the wonderful soprano Dawn Upshaw and the Andalucian Dogs, an 11-member group that includes David Krakauer on clarinet. The last half of the album, also 11 tracks, features Upshaw with seven musicians performing Luciano Berio’s Folk Songs, a ground-breaking work from 1964 which had an impact on Golijov and one that also blurs the lines between folk and art music. Ayre is an impressive recording that should prove especially appealing to aficionados of cross-cultural classical music.