No CD can adequately encapsulate the experience of a Barbara Hannigan performance, which must be seen as well as heard in order to appreciate the range of her talents. An avant-garde vocalist of virtuosic brilliance and a conductor of exceptional ability, Hannigan is also a theatrical phenomenon, known to appear on-stage as a Stasi official in dominatrix gear, or as a gum-popping schoolgirl, as in her concert performances of György Ligeti's Mysteries of the Macabre. She has also won acclaim for her operatic roles in George Benjamin's Written on Skin, and Alban Berg's Lulu, where she has presented her characters with terrifying psychological depth. Her 2017 release on Alpha, Crazy Girl Crazy, may serve as an introduction for listeners who have yet to hear or see her perform, and the album and the accompanying DVD, Music Is Music, present Hannigan as effectively as possible in digital media. Yet for all the extended techniques she executes to perfection in Luciano Berio's Sequenza III, and for the powerful lyricism and violence of her interpretation of Berg's Lulu Suite, in which she sings and conducts the Ensemble Ludwig, Hannigan also reveals an attractive knack for Broadway standards in the Girl Crazy Suite, a fresh arrangement of songs by George Gershwin. Hannigan is successful in all the genres she chooses because her performances are much more than an occasion for showing off, which in her case would be justifiable merely because of her dazzling vocal pyrotechnics and entertaining stage antics. Hannigan is possessed by her music, and she is convincing because she is absolutely committed to putting her voice, body, and personality on the line, with the fearlessness of a tightrope walker. This recording has astonishing clarity and close-up sound, giving Hannigan credible presence and audiophiles a genuine treat.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2