Regards sur l’Infini

Katharine Dain (soprano) and Sam Armstrong (piano) will release an album together in fall 2020: Regards sur l’Infini, available 27 November on 7 Mountain Records.

At the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown in mid-March 2020, Katharine and Sam, longtime friends and collaborators, decided to quarantine together. The period of lockdown lasted much longer than anyone anticipated, and the 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 on a theme—human restlessness in the face of intense experience—that is highly relevant to the troubled circumstances of the world in the grip of a pandemic. The centerpiece of the disc is 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 2020 has seen catastrophic loss, it has also forced us to to pause, to find ways of staying present in an uncomfortable reality. This duo 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 and a personal document of an unprecedented time.

Read a detailed blog post about the genesis of the project.

Months of quarantine have yielded an unprecedented result of nearly heavenly beauty. … The symbiosis between voice and piano is awe-inspiring. Rarely can such unity be found in this music: momentous irruptions of light; consonances chosen for their specific colours …

LIDY VAN DER SPEK, LEIDSCH DAGBLAD