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Joshua Rosenblum
Opera News, June 2015

Current’s musical language is excitingly original. Some of it sounds like controlled chaos—disorienting yet vitalizing—but a surprising (and genuinely emotional) lyricism emerges in the vocal lines. The entire piece…is clearly unified by a singular and compelling musical sensibility. The penultimate track is an ethereal “Pilot’s Aria,” first solemnly and then soaringly intoned by baritone Alexander Dobson. © 2015 Opera News Read complete review

Éric Champagne
La Scena Musicale, June 2015

This assorted microcosm behind closed doors brings about several melodic introspections and a few interesting theatrical interactions. The short opera benefits from Current’s skillful and intelligent writing, as well as a brilliant and well-constructed libretto. Emotion is also part of the work, as the pilot’s final aria, sung by a masterful Alexander Dobson, is dramatically touching. This opera is clearly a great success and deserves to appear in Naxos’s Canadian Classics collection. © 2015 La Scena Musicale Read complete review

Laurence Vittes
Gramophone, March 2015

the opera’s real heart lies in the exalted fears of the Scholar, eloquently sung by Graham Thomson… © 2015 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Definitely the Opera, February 2015

…I recommend listening to the CD as you would a favourite pop or jazz album: in bits, repeatedly, idiosyncratically, irreverently, sometimes while doing other stuff, sometimes for dancing around the house, other times in search of social criticism of the technological hubris and the late capitalist citizen loneliness. Occasionally a contemporary music piece captures some of what it feels like to be alive in our age so well that it’s easy to adopt it as part of the everyday life. Airline Icarus is familiar and strange, both. It does feel like the flying experience put to music, and its philosophical and political implications put to music too. © 2015 Definitely the Opera Read complete review

Joshua Kosman
San Francisco Chronicle, December 2014

“Airline Icarus,” a punchy, emotionally redolent chamber opera by Canadian composer Brian Current, joins the list of artworks you might not want to encounter at 30,000 feet. But heard safely on the ground, this 45-minute one-acter is full of inventive writing and an elusive dramatic flavor that comes through even without staging. Anton Piatigorsky’s contrapuntal libretto tracks the thoughts and interactions of several passengers on a flight to Cleveland that hits turbulence and comes to an ambiguously bad end. The characters flirt, make small talk and consider whether air travel is inherently an act of hubris, and all the while Current’s bright, inventive score both depicts the action and gets at an underlying layer of anxiety. In the score’s crowning moment, the pilot unleashes a long, rapturous aria that absolutely soars. This premiere recording, conducted by the composer, provides a fine introduction to the piece. © 2014 San Francisco Chronicle

David Denton
David's Review Corner, December 2014

The imagined story of those on the Korean commercial flight shot down by a Russian fighter plane in 1983, and their agonised thirteen minute fall from the sky. Using the simile with the mythical Icarus who flew too close to the sun and melted his wings, we have the story of those taking that flight and the preparations for take off. All is going well in a very normal scenario until the plane shakes as one of its wings are shot off and the harrowing aftermath. Probably not a story for nervous air passengers, but with five solo singers, chamber chorus and a small instrumental ensemble of nine, including piano and two percussion, the much acclaimed Canadian composer, Brian Current, has created a short chamber opera. Born in 1972, he took his inspiration from a poem by Anton Piatigorsky, the work being completed in 2005 and first staged in Italy in 2011. Working within a framework of lyric music for the singers and an instrumental backdrop that uses a modern tonality, it is both modern and easily accessible. In fifteen linked sections, the most extended dealing with the plane’s last moments, there is an elongated aria for the poor stranded pilot unable to do anything except to wait for his death. The booklet credits the recording as having come from a concert performance and rehearsals that took place at the Toronto Conservatory in 2012 with the composer conducting. The sound does become rather congested at climatic moments, and you will need to download the text from the Naxos website, to grasp the words being sung. © 2014 David’s Review Corner

Dr. Réa Beaumont
The WholeNote, November 2014

Piatigorsky’s insight into human nature exposes a glimpse of humanity at its most vulnerable as the libretto juxtaposes mundane conversations with the characters’ introspective thoughts. This dramatic fluctuation is sustained, quite extraordinarily, by the chamber chorus and soloists…

Current’s depiction of turbulence is frighteningly realistic until an eerie stillness, beautifully performed by the instrumental ensemble, underscores the Pilot’s aria, providing an impression of suspended time and space. Superbly sung by Dobson, it ironically describes his joy of flying as the plane descends. © 2014 The WholeNote Read complete review

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