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Joshua Rosenblum
Opera News, February 2018

The Andrée Exposition (1982) uses letters and diaries from two of the three Swedish men who set out on a doomed exploration of the North Pole via balloon in 1897 and weren’t heard of again until their bodies were discovered thirty-three years later. Argento makes something grand and epic out of their hare-brained mission. …Timothy Long provides masterfully sculpted renditions of the varied and challenging piano parts, which range from spare and crystalline (evoking the icy North) to rolling and transcendent.

Argento won a Pulitzer Prize in 1975 for his penetrating cycle From the Diary of Virginia Woolf. …Mulligan delivers Argento’s plain-spoken, pensive setting with appropriate serenity. Throughout, he sings with gratifyingly clear diction… © 2018 Opera News Read complete review



Allen Gimbel
American Record Guide, January 2018

Mr Mulligan’s diction is flawless, and most of it can be understood, …[he] is a fine advocate and sings wonderfully. © 2018 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide



Göran Forsling
MusicWeb International, December 2017

…Brian Mulligan is very good—in both cycles. He has the required power but even more important the sensitivity to convey the inward intimacy, where the spoken words are not expressive enough. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, November 2017

The music in this Naxos edition is performed quite capably by baritone Brian Mulligan and pianist Timothy Long. The pianist is very sensitively attuned to the ever-present commentary and sometimes the dimensional contrast his accompanying role calls for. Mulligan has a highly dramatic approach, which fares especially well in the softer, more reflective sections. When he is at forte and especially above that his is a rather hard sonance. It takes some getting used to. The music warrants it in its extraordinary depictions.

In the end though we come for Argento’s music. © 2017 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review



Robert Tomas
The WholeNote, October 2017

Vocal Recital (Baritone): Hampson, Thomas - GOUNOD, C. / BIZET, G. / CHAUSSON, E. / MASSENET, J. / SAINT-SAËNS, C. (Serenade) PTC5186681
ARGENTO, D.: Andrée Expedition (The) / From the Diary of Virginia Woolf (Mulligan, Long) 8.559828

Thomas Hampson, arguably the “old guard” baritone, with several decades, and some 170 CDs to his name, is pitted against Brian Mulligan, a young and already accomplished graduate of the Juilliard School, here making his recording debut. …Both fully understand the works they sing—no empty sound-making typical of some sopranos here. Both have the benefit of intelligent accompaniment by great piano players: Hampson with the phenomenal Maciej Pikulski, and Mulligan with the equally redoubtable Timothy Long. …both excellent. So the contest is a complete draw, as both singers are wonderful, unabashed, triumphant and resounding baritones! © 2017 The WholeNote Read complete review




Pizzicato, October 2017

Baritone Brian Mulligan and pianist Timothy Lang are an excellent team for Dominick Argento’s outstanding song cycles. In the dread journey of The Andrée Expedition as well as in the highly confessional From the Diary of Virginia Woolf, Mulligan is living out the text with a rich, clearly articulating and dramatic voice, and Timothy Lang has all the sensitivity needed to create the right atmosphere at the piano. © 2017 Pizzicato



Laurence Vittes
Gramophone, October 2017

These two song-cycles are literally worlds apart: The Andrée Expedition was Argento’s response to a quixotically failed balloon trip to the North Pole based on the letters and journals of the three Swedish friends who perished in the attempt. Its mixture of folly and courage is captured in the final words: ‘It is indeed a wonderful journey through the night. I am cold but will not wake the two sleepers.’ As the 45-minute narrative progresses, Mulligan relaxes into the three roles he must play and, with Long brilliantly at his side, mines a succession of poignant gem-like moments, exquisite distillations of love and brief emotional surges which lead along the trio’s slow frozen path to mortality, like a modern day Winterreise without the melodies. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1975, From the Diary of Virginia Woolf yields itself gracefully to Mulligan’s lyrical feel and declamatory power, while the texts and music draw him in almost without his seeming to know it. In both cycles, the piano-writing puts the pianist into a nearly equal relationship, which Long handles splendidly. © 2017 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone



David Denton
David's Review Corner, August 2017

Born in 1927, Dominick Argento become established as one of North America’s leading opera composers, the release offering two of his extended song cycles. By nature a lyric writer, he is severely tested by texts that were never intended to be set to music. The first, The Andrée Expedition is a story of foolhardy bravery of three Swedish men who in 1897 attempted to fly to the North Pole by balloon. Ending in tragedy, it was not until thirty-three years later their bodies were found. Taken directly from the diaries written by two of them, Argento has added words describing the men. The thirteen songs, set in two parts for baritone and piano, completed in 1982, last for around three quarters of an hour. Originally intended for the distinguished Swedish baritone, Håkan Hagegård, the rather strenuous quality of writing at times tests Brian Mulligan, though his declamatory style is ideal for the ‘hard’ quality of the words. For the second cycle, composed eight years earlier, Argento chose words from the Diary of Virginia Woolf, another very difficult source for a flowing ‘libretto’. Intended for a female voice, to reflect the writer, it is in eight parts, each being a month in the Woolf’s life. This is less demanding on the singer, being of a more gentle character as she pontificates on the life around her. Argento’s piano part is appropriately sparse for much of the story around the Expedition, but more involved in the Woolf songs where it adds a great deal to the picture of business. Always highly responsive to Mulligan’s interpretation, the piano tone afforded to Timothy Long is more that of a period fortepiano. A most interesting disc of two important vocal works. © 2017 David’s Review Corner



Records International, August 2017

The two major song cycles on this recording demonstrate Argento’s flair for setting unusual texts to music. From the Diary…, which won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Music, is based on eight of the writer’s confessional journal entries, while The Andree Expedition sets diaries and letters from an ultimately tragic balloon expedition to the North Pole in 1897. © 2017 Records International





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