No owls were injured, or even mentioned, in the music on this album; the title refers to a poem by American writer John Haines that Dutch mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn, in a lengthy introduction, sees as suggestive of the search for wisdom. Accordingly, many of the song texts deal with prayer in one way or another, and the general mood is slow and reverent. Within this framework, though, Stotijn offers a good deal of variety. The songs range across multiple languages, including German, Aramaic, Russian, French, Hebrew, and English. They're mostly quite obscure; even the pair of Ravel songs, one of them a setting of the Hebrew Kaddish prayer, are not often performed, and they fit together well especially as united by Stotijn's deep, creamy voice. The two songs by Joseph Marx, a little-known follower of Strauss, are deep evocations of solitude. Stotijn convincingly knits together Germanic and French/Swiss repertoire, and she brings a contemporary composition, a group of three songs by Dutch composer Fant de Kanter that use either no accompaniment or that of a single viola or double bass, into the mix effectively. An unusual song recital that is not what it appears to be, and may in fact be more than it appears to be.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
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