ILLUMINATIONS RELEASED TO RAVE REVIEWS
"Nicholas Phan’s previous releases have shown him to be not only a fine singer but a fine programmer, too. His latest album continues the trend and juxtaposes three works – two to texts by Verlaine, one to a text by Rimbaud – that provide an unalloyed hour of pleasure.
He is joined in the first two works by his regular accompanist, Myra Huang, who plays with a lovely mixture of sensitivity and delicacy – listen to her at the opening of Debussy’s ‘C’est l’extase langoureuse’, for example, or the start of Fauré’s ‘Avant que tu ne t’en ailles’. The Telegraph Quartet fill out the textures of the Fauré beautifully, too.
Phan’s own interpretations set the tone. Here’s a singer who puts music and words first, without ever resorting to the self-regard that surely must be a temptation in music as seductive as this...he sings with intelligence, sensitivity and poise, not to mention an appealing gentleness and patience...
After two French composers, the work that gives the disc its title showcases the young Benjamin Britten in Francophone mode. The brilliance of Les illuminations rarely fails to come across. And though Phan’s account with The Knights...is highly persuasive and difficult to resist. The tenor’s virtues pay dividends here and the playing of the orchestra is beautifully alive and alert, with some excellent solo work. With detailed and clear sound, this is a recital that can be safely recommended."
DISC OF THE WEEK, MAY 12, 2018
WQXR BEST NEW CLASSICAL RELEASES APRIL 2018
"Phan’s singing is both sultry and refined, accentuated by the equally subtle playing of his collaborators, pianist Myra Huang, the Telegraph Quartet and Brooklyn-based orchestra The Knights." - WQXR
PRESTO EDITOR'S CHOICE APRIL 2018
"[Phan] brings an astounding range of colours and textures to bear on poetry which he clearly loves and knows inside-out. The Knights suit the action to the word, too, in a reading of Les Illuminations which brings Rimbaud’s ‘parade sauvage’ to vivid, unsettling life." - Presto Classical
"his singing is impeccably correct" - The Guardian
Nicholas Phan Follows 2018 Grammy Nomination with Release of New Solo Album, Illuminations, April 20
Nicholas Phan’s new solo album for Avie Records– Illuminations– drops this Friday, April 20, on the heels of his 2018 Grammy nomination forBest Classical Solo Vocal Album. On the new recording, the tenor reunites with his long-time recital partner, pianist Myra Huang, besides joining forces with the adventurous Brooklyn-based orchestral collective, The Knights, and the award-winning Telegraph Quartet. Comprising compositions by Benjamin Britten, Claude Debussy, and Gabriel Fauré, the album is a collection of vocal music inspired by the poetry of two scandalous figures of the Parisian Belle Époque, Paul Verlaine and his younger lover, Arthur Rimbaud.
The poetry and salaciously intertwined lives of Paul Verlaineand Arthur Rimbaudwere the inspiration for the music of Illuminations, which boasts three important song cycles: Fauré’s La bonne chanson, Debussy’s Ariettes oubliées,and Britten’s Les Illuminations. All three works are settings of poems written just before and during the period in which Verlaine and Rimbaud scandalized all of Paris. Shortly after his marriage to the young Mathilde Mauté, Verlaine was sent poems written by Rimbaud, then aged 17. Upon reading them, Verlaine invited the young country-boy prodigy to Paris, initiating a tumultuous affair that would end with Verlaine shooting Rimbaud in the hand during a lovers’ quarrel that got out of hand one fateful night in Belgium.