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Rob Haskins
American Record Guide, November 2017

Charlotte Hellekant sings very well, and her spoken English is easy to understand and refreshingly non-British. I’m not sure that her reading of the poem is necessary—the music stands perfectly well on its own; and a shorter-than-average disc is no terrible thing at Naxos’s prices. The instrumental players are expert and committed, the sound excellent. © 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

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

The music is spacious, sombre, mysterious and more or less high modernist in its sprawling expanded tonal rigor. The dark mood has a musical analogy, which is sure-footed and very atmospheric.

Mezzo-Soprano Hellekant and the United Instruments of Lucilin give us a detailed and carefully expressive reading of the work.

The composition is dedicated by the composer to Hellekant and United Instrumentation. The close rapport between music and performers is apparent and a large factor in the success of the disk. © 2017 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review

Andrew Clements
The Guardian, May 2017

Hellekant delivers it all superbly, …without a performer of her dramatic presence, it wouldn’t be half as convincing as it is. © 2017 The Guardian Read complete review

Rob Barnett
MusicWeb International, May 2017

Hellekant is well known in the worlds of art-song, orchestral song and opera. …There’s an uncloying openness about her voice and she has a memorably intelligent and emotional way of projecting words, mood and meaning. Her delivery as narrator of the poem is intimate, close to the ear, invading the listener’s space in an agreeable way. Her speaking voice reminds me of that of the actress Juliet Stevenson. She is very creative with the presentation and shading of the words. Phrases creep out word by word or in a frictionless rush. Resignation, despair and wan passion are all intimately immediate.

Much the same applies to the Hosokawa setting which presents a volatile world of towering power and danger. The music is lapidary, open of texture, brimming with turbulent detail. The musical elements are occasionally dissonant and the twelve instruments contribute with unusual techniques. The wind instruments in particular are called on to make breathy huffing noises and groans as well as more conventional sounds. Hellekant speaks and sings, encompassing mental disturbance, lassitude, anxiety and emotional accelerant. Every detail feels commandingly delivered. The monodrama was recorded in the presence of the composer. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2017

Using Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, The Raven, the Japanese composer, Toshio Hosokawa has dedicated his monodrama to the performers on this first recording. Born in 1955, Hosokawa was musically trained in Germany, but returns to his roots in setting this emotive text as if in a Japanese Noh play where humans and the natural world can converse. Here the interplay is between a man and a bird, though in Hosokawa’s score the man is taken by a mezzo-soprano who uses both speech and song to express the feelings of the human. The disc opens with the poem acted out by the soloist in the performance, though you will still need the booklet to follow the musical adaptation. In style Hosokawa follows in the footsteps of the shimmering sounds created by his famous predecessor, Toru Takemitsu, and though he stops short of musical pictures to differentiate the brief stories told in each stanza of the poem, he uses the ensemble of twelve instruments with such skill and flexibility, that it becomes a chamber symphony orchestra. The Swedish-born soloist, Charlotte Hellekant, who enjoys a career in the world’s famous opera houses, is a superb actress-singer who never overstates the rather other-worldly aspects of the poems. Here recorded in Horishima in 2014, presumably at the time of the work’s Japanese premiere, it has the benchmark status confirmed by the presence of the composer. Founded in 1999, the Luxembourg-based ensemble, conducted by Kentaro Kawase, are obviously a fine group captured in a recording of superb quality. I commend the release to you as a major addition to the 21st century repertoire on disc. © 2017 David’s Review Corner

Records International, April 2017

Hosokawa sets Poe’s famous poem as a monodrama, pointing up its similarities to Japanese Noh plays, in which spirits in the form of animals are frequently characters. Poe’s inventive, alliterative use of language already makes a music of its own, so all that is required of the composer is to surround the text in ominous, brooding atmospheric scene-setting, which is thoroughly accomplished here. The piece begins with gentle, sinister sounds—key slaps, breath sounds, pitchless whispering—conjuring the gloom and foreboding of the poem, but increasingly gives way to the sudden intrusion of expressionistic outbursts which grow in intensity as the poem’s tension and supernatural terrors crescendo in their own right. The soloist starts by intoning the text like a somber recitation, but gradually moves into full-blown Erwartung mode as the piece progresses. © 2017 Records International

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