Regards sur l’Infini

Katharine Dain and Sam Armstrong are proud to present Regards sur l’Infini, a collection of French songs by Messiaen, Debussy, Delbos, Dutilleux, and Saariaho recorded for 7 Mountain Records.

“Memorable … intriguing … an extraordinarily polished and thought-through disc. At its centre is a glowing performance of Messiaen’s 1937 song cycle Poèmes pour Mi, Dain’s voice crystalline yet powerful when required, Armstrong’s piano effortlessly propulsive.”

—Erica Jeal, The Guardian, 26.11.20 (four stars, classical album of the week)

ABOUT THE PROJECT

At the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown, Katharine and Sam, longtime friends and collaborators, decided to quarantine together, and enforced months of isolation at home allowed for unusually deep and slow exploration of repertoire for voice and piano. Eventually this work led to the development of a song program centered  Messiaen’s extraordinary Poèmes pour Mi, composed in the early years of his marriage to Claire Delbos. The album also includes Debussy’s complete Proses lyriques as well as infrequently-performed but mesmerizing songs by Delbos (also a composer), Henri Dutilleux and Kaija Saariaho.

All the songs on the disc are deeply personal responses to text and to moments of pivotal change in the composers’ or poets’ lives. Although the Covid-19 pandemic has caused incalculable loss, it has also forced us all to to pause, to try to stay present in an uncomfortable reality. Katharine and Sam responded to this uncertainty with open-ended musical work, assimilation, and building of trust. The result is Regards sur l’Infini, a collection of deeply personal stories that together tell a larger story about the restless human gaze, a personal document of an unprecedented time.

Read Katharine’s blog post about the genesis of the project.

“A palindromic program, then, and what a program! Dain herself wrote the outstanding liner notes, and you can hear in every song her unique understanding of this music. Armstrong is her equal partner in everything. Just listen to how desolately he plays the spare notes of Delbos. This music is a discovery, and Dain sings it all with merciless beauty, with Messiaen as the rightful center and high point.”

—Peter van der Lint (translated from Dutch), Trouw, 20.11.20 (four stars)

“Scorching … incisive … Regards sur l’Infini is impressively elegant and thoughtful, featuring cunningly chosen French song settings presented in palindrome form … penetrating artistry … It’s almost worth buying this album just for the opening and closing songs by Kaija Saariaho: perfect in every way.”

—Geoff Brown, The Times, 9.12.20 (four stars)

 

“A stunning album about turning points and existential epiphanies, cleverly programmed. … At its heart is the song cycle Poèmes pour Mi, composed by Messiaen for his first wife, Claire Delbos: ecstatic pianism, stratospheric outbursts, sultry sighs and pure beauty. … Breathtaking.”

—Joep Stapel (translated from Dutch), NRC, 10.12.20 (four stars)

LISTEN OR BUY

Spotify

Bol.com (Netherlands and worldwide)

Amazon.fr (France and worldwide)

La Boite à Musique (English-language shop shipping worldwide)

directly from the artists

Apple Music

Amazon Music

Qobuz

Unfortunately, a Covid-related supply delay is slowing availability of the physical CD on Amazon.co.uk and Presto Classical, but this page will be updated with relevant buying links as soon as the problems are resolved. The album is also available on Tidal and numerous other subscription streaming sites.

“The first thing you notice is Dain’s magnificent voice. … The second is the symbiosis between singer and pianist. It happens rarely that Messiaen, Debussy, Dutilleux, and the French-Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho are championed so sublimely.”

—Guido van Oorschot (translated from Dutch), Volkskrant, 3.12.20 (four stars)

 

“Exceptionally successful … Dain brings her warm, clear voice to this French perfume, and Armstrong is an empathetic partner. What a beautiful CD.”

—Erik Voermans (translated from Dutch), Parool, 27.11.20