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26 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 10, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This stunning new CD of music by Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov is a beauty. The title work, Oceana, is scored for instruments (with prominent guitars and percussion), chorus, and solo vocalist (here, the remarkable samba and jazz stylist Luciana Souza). It sets a poem by Pablo Neruda that praises the transcendent power and beauty of the ocean. Filled with dancing rhythms, the work ebbs and flows, ever-moving and fascinating at every turn. The Kronos Quartet then plays Tenebrae, a two-movement lamentation with long, almost Verdian melodies. Three Songs, sung by Dawn Upshaw, ends the CD. One is a tale about the sad fate of Jews and Gypsies during World War II. The second, "Colorless Moon," is a stunning dirge, and the last, a poem by Emily Dickinson, is also a lament about the inevitability of death. Please don't assume from these descriptions that this disc is depressing. This is stunning, original music that uplifts, and it is performed superbly by all involved. A must. --Robert Levine
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Product Details

  • Performer: Jay Anderson, John Dearman, Scott Tennant, Elizabeth Remy Johnson, Jamey Haddad, et al.
  • Orchestra: Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
  • Conductor: Robert Spano
  • Composer: Osvaldo Golijov
  • Audio CD (July 10, 2007)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B000PDZQS8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,211 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Samer Ismail on August 18, 2007
Format: Audio CD
What amazes me when I listen to this disc--as I've probably done half a dozen times this week--is how much trouble I've had finding the words to describe it accurately.

Part of the "problem"--and it is clearly mine, not the music's--is that the music is simultaneously utterly different from anything I've listened to, and yet reminiscent of so many composers--just to name a few, I was reminded of John Adams' "Harmonium" and Heitor Villa-Lobos' "Bachianas Brasileiras" in "Oceana", Bach and Verdi in "Tenebrae," and Bernstein and Gershwin in "Three Songs."

And, of course, it is not possible to discuss this CD without talking about Golijov's two muses--Luciana Souza in "Oceana," and Dawn Upshaw in "Three Songs." I don't think I can even imagine anyone else performing either of these works nearly as well as these two women do. And, like so many of their other recordings, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (and Chorus, for "Oceana") perform admirably.

In fact, I can think of only one "negative" about this CD at all, and that is the remarkably high pickup on the recording. At just half-volume on my speakers, the climaxes of "Oceana" were almost overpowering; I can only imagine what it would be like at full volume in a live performance.

If you're already a fan of Golijov, you should need no further persuasion from me to buy this CD. If you're not, this CD is likely to make you a convert--as it did with me.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Debra Jan Bibel TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 15, 2007
Format: Audio CD
These three pieces of Golijov are important works. The compilation is united by a solemnity and cognition of transience, of memories, of life; the ever changing sea conveying fleeting travelers, the pain and loss of the diaspora and holocaust of Jew and Roma, the arrival and loss of our dreams and our pains, the condition of our small planet in a vast cosmos. The middle piece, wonderfully performed by the Kronos Quartet, for me it the gem of the CD, so tightly composed, each note to the mystical point. Upshaw brings an ethereal quality to the songs, providing tension and its sweet release. Oceana, the first work, has its passionate Latin textures by word and instrument, which brings new discoveries with each listening. While I would prefer an anthology with greater diversity of mood, this CD is rich in sonic treasure.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. Wahlquist on October 4, 2007
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Golijov is one of the best composers of art music out there today. His style has been called 'maximalist' in other reviews, which I understand to mean he incorporates a vast variety of stylistic influences into his music. Oceana was composed for a Bach festival, and the choral movements especially reflect that. But latin, flamenco, and other modern techniques are used in a manner that is less eclectic than cohesively energetic. Bach can be seen again in the piece for string quartet, which is by far the calmest thing for string quartet I've heard from Golijov (check out the CD 'Yiddishbuk' - which shows Golijov's modern and Jewish side). The three songs for orchestra are breathtaking. 'Lua descolorida' can be found in the midst of Golijov's St. Mark Passion, and Lullaby and Doina can be found on the Yiddishbuk CD in instrumental arrangement, but these newly orchestrated versions capture a new tenderness and wild gypsy abandon that aren't as clear in the other versions. 'How slow the wind' in English, is a stunning performance by Dawn Upshaw. That piece is also available as a cello piece on an album by Maya Beiser. This performance gives it a much more 'alive' feel.
All in all, this is a very good recording of several works by Osvaldo Golijov. It gives a good representation of the breadth of his style, from flamenco to minimalism to eastern european. It is essential for anyone who is following Golijov's rise, and a good CD to get aquainted with his music. If you liked Ainadamar, (his opera that won two grammies) you will like this.
The liner notes also promise a new recording of the St. Mark Passion to be released soon!
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Santa Fe Listener HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 14, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Golijov is in danger of being priased for music that strikes me as glib and slick. The main work here, "Ocieana,' begins with a blatant appeal of pop taste: strumming guitars against a taped background of waves softly lapping the shore. I can't consider this a serious effort. The subsequent chorale parts hark back to Golijo's breakthrough work, the St. Mark Passion, with various Latin rhythms and lots of shouting in the manner of uncultivated folk singing. It's an idiom that he has taken to the bank a few times too often. If you listen past the sound effects and the atmospheric jazz singing by soloist Luciana Souza (which is set to run-of-the-mill Brazilian riffs), it's hard to hear what the shouting is about except for the desperation among classical record companies to manufacture a crossover hit.

Matters improve musically in the second half of the program. Golojov's strength lies in somber moodmaking and plaintive vocal lines based on klezmer, Sephardic, and NOrth African sources. We get the mournful part in Tenebrae, a two-movement elegy for string quartet. It's quite conservative compared with similar efforts from Ligeti, Lutoslawski, and others, but the arching melodic ines feel sincere and bring moving results.

I was waiting, however, for the three songs that end the CD, having heard a smapling here in Santa Fe two summers ago. Dawn UPshaw has proved to be Golijov's greatest champion, and here again she captures his mournful tone beautifully. All three songs are on the high level of Upshaw's last Golijov release, Ayre. The powerful symphonic music that accompanies the songs is conducted with commitment by Robert Spano. As stand-alones, these songs fully deserve five stars, and yet I wonder how such a capable composer can be satisfied with semi-junk like Oceana.
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