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Terry Blain
BBC Music Magazine, March 2018

The panic-stricken opening chorus reflects this ['a sort of war requiem' documenting "how war touches all human beings and, most notably, the children."], its tinny shards of orchestration rattling like shrapnel around the singers. Much of the music is, though, slower-moving and contemplative, in places stylistically recalling Philip Glass’s Akhnaten or Satyagraha, especially when the choirs recite a psalm in Arabic. The two solo parts, of Dawoūd and his companion Jibreel, are fairly large, and sung with evident commitment by Dann Coakwell and Michael Kelly. The choral contributions are well prepared, and particularly effective at Zabur’s touching conclusion. © 2018 BBC Music Magazine Read complete review

Rob Haskins
American Record Guide, March 2017

The music for this work is well made, responding to the text with an elevated nobility that creates a certain distant formality perhaps appropriate for oratorio. His text setting is particularly fine—Fairouz’s long acquaintance with vocal music shows in his skill at making the words easily understandable almost all the time. The performance is good… © 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Joshua Rosenblum
Opera News, February 2017

This is one of Fairouz’s most moving, exciting, penetrating and enveloping works to date. As always, his broad array of international influences gives him a musical palette that can transcend boundaries of genre and nationality to express deep and universal yearnings.

Eric Stark conducts the massed forces of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, Symphonic Choir and Symphony Orchestra. All are exemplary; the piece is extraordinary. © 2017 Opera News Read complete review

Steve Arloff
MusicWeb International, December 2016

The words are very telling in their directness. The music matches that and confirms Fairouz’s ability to create works of considerable power, leaving the listener deeply impressed. There is an epic scale about the work and the music is appropriately grand. The overarching message that hope springs eternal and can and must gain the upper hand for the sake of Man’s survival resonates throughout. It is what the listener is left with as the work comes to a close. Zabur is a profoundly affecting oratorio for the modern era; it demands to be heard. The two soloists are fine singers indeed and Michael Kelly’s baritone voice really hits home. The work’s commissioning chorus gives powerful support along with the children’s choir and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra deliver the music expertly. The sound is well balanced and all the words are easy to hear which is so important in a work such as this. © 2016 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Donald Rosenberg
Gramophone, December 2016

The 2015 world premiere is preserved on this recording, which shows the Indianapolis choir and its colleagues, the Indianapolis Children’s Choir and Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, in superb, responsive form under Eric Stark. Baritone Michael Kelly sings with eloquent intensity as the blogger, and tenor Dann Coakwell is equally fine as his companion. © 2016 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Ralph Graves
WTJU, October 2016

This is not pretty background music. Zabur is a work of great emotional power—and one that needs to be heard. © 2016 WTJU Read complete review, October 2016

This world première recording is well-paced, well-sung and sensitively played by all concerned—the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir actually commissioned the work. © 2016 Read complete review

Lynn René Bayley
The Art Music Lounge, October 2016

a wonderful piece, well worth hearing and experiencing, and this performance is simply wonderful in every respect. © 2016 The Art Music Lounge Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, October 2016

Born in New York City in 1985, Mohammed Fairouz is said to be one of the most frequently performed, commissioned, and recorded composers of his generation. He has been a pupil of Ligeti, Gunther Schuller, and, more recently, of Richard Danielpour—whose music I also review this month—and it is his influence we hear in this large-scale vocal work, Zabur, completed in 2015 in response to the world’s present conflicts. The word is Arabic for ‘Psalms’ and pictures the young poet locked in a shelter with a group of men, women and children, the city around them under siege. The words take us from that scene and through their suffering that ends with the ‘Destruction of the Shelter’, and carries the message that if we have faith in a creator it will transcend events now and in the future. The fact that Fairouz is so successful comes from his need to communicate with his audience in a musical language they understand. The very opening is cacophonous as required by the nature of the scene, but thereafter it is gorgeous vocal writing much enjoyed by the tenor and baritone soloists, Dann Coakwell and Michael Kelly. In the story they are the young man and his companion, a deeply moving dialogue opening the work’s second part that leads to the children’s chorus Can we tell them we are hungry? The work’s final section opens with Hear my prayer, O Lord, and is given to the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir who have commissioned the work, their Artistic Director, Eric Stark, obtaining throughout the performance the wide dynamic range from the Indianapolis Symphony needed to picture the scenario. The disc sleeve does not make clear, but I think this is a ‘live’ recording of the world premiere, and I guess it signals another success for the young composer. © 2016 David’s Review Corner

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