"The Blue Hour, a cycle of songs by Caroline Shaw, Angelica Negrón, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Rachel Grimes and Shara Nova, who sings and narrates its 40 sections, is unforgettable," writes NPR Classical’s Tom Huizenga in naming the album to his list of the year’s ten best. The album has also made NPR Music's list of The 50 Best Albums of 2022 and year's best lists from the Boston Globe, New Sounds, Sequenza 21, and I Care If You Listen, which calls it "stunning."
The Blue Hour, released October 14 on New Amsterdam / Nonesuch Records, has made NPR Music’s lists of The 50 Best Albums of 2022 and The 10 Best Classical Albums of 2022 and made year's best lists from Boston Globe, New Sounds, I Care If You Listen, and Sequenza 21. The song cycle, a collaboration among five composers—Rachel Grimes, Angélica Negrón, Shara Nova, Caroline Shaw, and Sarah Kirkland Snider—was commissioned by the chamber orchestra A Far Cry, who are joined on the recording by singer Shara Nova. Set to excerpts from Carolyn Forché’s epic poem On Earth, the music follows one woman’s journey through the liminal space between life and death via thousands of hallucinatory and non-linear images.
“The Blue Hour, a cycle of songs by Caroline Shaw, Angelica Negrón, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Rachel Grimes and Shara Nova, who sings and narrates its 40 sections, is unforgettable,” writes NPR Classical’s Tom Huizenga in naming the album to his list of the year’s ten best. “Nova has rarely sounded so all-encompassing—from intimate communications to full-throated operatic splendor, backed by the agile string orchestra A Far Cry.”
“The balance of similarity and otherness among the five composers is so sure as to make The Blue Hour seem like the work of a unified compositional voice,” writes the Boston Globe’s David Weininger in his article on the year’s highlights. “Nova, known for her work in My Brightest Diamond, sings the entire captivating work to AFC’s deft accompaniment.”
New Sounds’ John Schaefer, on his Completely Opinionated Top Ten of 2022, writes: “These five gifted composers speak to a circle of stories—shared influences, revelatory experiences—all riffing off of and taking inspiration from one another, as they respond collectively to a flood of memories from a woman traveling the space between life and death as laid out in the poem.”
“Stunning,” exclaims I Care If You Listen’s Amanda Cook on the site’s year-end Editor’s Picks: 2022 New Music Albums. “The narrator’s scattered memories unfold in a beautifully tender journey unified by an emotionally direct, luminously consonant, and melodically expressive aesthetic. From the blossoming opening to the haunting canonic finale, the 40 short vignettes lilt, reflect, whisper, shimmer, and resonate.”
“There is a wistful poignancy to much of the music,” writes Sequenza 21’s Christian Carey. “Nova is a vocal marvel, able to move seamlessly from pop stylings to high-lying legit singing ... It demonstrates the potential of jettisoning the composer as a monolithic (patriarchal) figure, instead providing an attractive alternative that celebrates collaboration. The Blue Hour is one of our Favorites for 2022.”
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