Forget This Night: Reactions

Sam and I couldn’t have asked for a more enthusiastic response to our second album together, Forget This Night.

Two and a half years after first performing Lili Boulanger’s cycle Clairières dans le ciel together and knowing instantly that we had to record it, we were delighted that so many critics and friends loved it as much as we do—and that the musical and emotional connections with the gorgeous songs of Szymanowski and Bacewicz resonated strongly. The disc was the definition of a labor of love; we (Sam and I plus Frerik, our tireless producer, engineer, and champion) are grateful to everyone who has listened, written about the project, or supported it along the way.

If you haven’t listened yet, you can buy the physical CD (with my liner notes, texts and translations, and all the beautiful images and design) here (NL & Europe), here (UK), or here (United States). You can stream the album on Spotify, Apple Music, or your favorite platform.

The album was profiled (with interviews and live studio performances) on BBC’s In Tune with Sean Rafferty and NPO Radio 4’s Podium with Dieuwerte Blok. Lex Bohlmeijer chose the album for an extensive week-long exploration on his program Passaggio on NPO Radio 4 before the November 17th release, featuring an in-depth interview.

Below, a roundup of all the written press coverage (as far as I know). First, some highlights; further down, in order of appearance, is a full list. Non-English texts have been translated here, but are linked in their original languages.



BBC Music Magazine Song/Choral Choice of the Month; Performance: ***** Recording: *****
“This excellent duo’s last album was rightly praised for its thoughtful programming and elegant performances. Forget This Night is every bit as appealing in its repertoire and execution, with Dain and Armstrong bringing a terrific sense of light and shade to an expertly curated collection of French and Polish songs. At the heart of the album is Clairières dans le ciel (Clearings in the Sky), the only song cycle by Lili Boulanger. … The piece receives an exquisite reading from Dain and Armstrong, who offer everything from the ethereal to the earthy in this assured performance. There is also an unexpected highlight: a previously unrecorded fragment of music from Boulanger’s very last notebook. Dain renders this magical snippet of music with extraordinary tenderness and intimacy. It is a rare and special thing to experience. … This is altogether a remarkable release: beautiful, intelligent and utterly heartfelt.
—Kate Wakeling, BBC Music Magazine, January 2024

Katharine Dain and Sam Armstrong again deliver an original, beautiful album *****
The album has a radiant focus: Clairières dans le ciel by Lili Boulanger. … Boulanger’s final song lasts eight minutes and is the astonishingly well-executed highlight of this sublime album, with voice and piano in perfect symbiosis.”
—Peter van der Lint, Trouw, 20 November 2023

“The centrepiece here is Lili Boulanger’s emotionally turbulent 13-song cycle Clairières dans le ciel. … With this dramatically variegated new [interpretation] … Dain and Armstrong plumb the music’s considerable depths quite thoroughly. … Dain’s voice is notable for its purity of tone, and her ability to sustain a long melodic line pays huge dividends throughout this recital. Dain sings [a fragment from one of Boulanger’s sketchbooks] as if to herself alone, almost in a whisper at times. The effect is absolutely heart-rending.”
—Andrew Farrach-Colton, Gramophone, January 2024

Beautifully imaginative song album about surrender, eroticism and impermanence ****
The focus is on Boulanger’s Clairières dans le ciel (1914). … For this alone, Dain and Armstrong deserve praise. But they precede Boulanger’s cycle with a idiosyncratic Polish-French collage that makes the album truly special – as if the three composers have jointly composed a larger work. … Dain has an alluring voice, with a dark low timbre and flawless high register. … Armstrong is an empathetic and subtle accompanist who meticulously sculpts the character of each piece.”
—Joep Stapel, NRC, 19 January 2024


“The compilation of items in “Forget This Night” is just as thoughtful as the French songs gathered into their 2020 debut album, “Regards sur l’infini”. The linking theme is the passion and fragility of human relationships, and the repertoire bring many revelations, from Lili Boulanger’s emotionally adventurous cycle “Clairières dans le ciel” to a welcome dip into the pungent Polish songs of Grazyna Bacewicz. Soloist and pianist are always assured and eloquent”
—Geoff Brown, The Times London, 15 November 2023

In-depth feature on Forget This Night by Claire Seymour at Opera Today, 17 November 2023

“Soprano Katharine Dain’s recital disc contains some exquisite music, and you’re continually wondering why so many of these songs aren’t better-known. … Dain, idiomatically accompanied by pianist Sam Armstrong, is magnificent, alternately consolatory and stentorian, her voice never sounding strained when she’s at full tilt. Sample her in the album opener, Boulanger’s “Attente”, a sensual Maeterlinck setting. Or in the heart-breaking closer, a previously unrecorded late fragment found in a Boulanger sketchbook … “Mamidło”, setting a 10th century Arabic text, is irresistible. Five numbers by Szymanowski are lush, perfumed treats, the final “Lean silently over the cradle” the most striking, seductive lullaby you’ll hear. A marvellous recital, in short. Texts and translations are included (those from French and German made by Dain, who also contributes a fascinating sleeve note).”
—Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk, 25 November 2023

“This recital makes complete artistic, indeed aesthetic, sense in such compelling performances as these. The presentation and the recording quality are first-class, and all-in-all this record demonstrates the essential qualities of European musical art of the twentieth century at its most intimate yet most humanly communicative. A distinguished release”
—Geoffrey Leigh, Musical Opinion, autumn 2023

“… hypnotically beautiful. Dain treats words of desire ethereally and introspectively, but her voice can also become a white-hot flame, as in Szymanowski’s songs inspired by the Persian poet Hafez. Armstrong adds a wealth of nuances … If there is such a thing as perfect beauty of sound, they achieve it together in Clairières dans le ciel, Boulanger’s song cycle about disappointed love. Dain’s voice caresses the French language like silk.”
—Jenny Camilleri, Volkskrant, 14 December 2023

“Clearly selected with a great deal of care, this is a recital which draws you in and keeps you engaged from beginning to end. … There is a mixture of playfulness and drama, light and darkness throughout the whole programme which Katharine Dain expresses with an ideal balance of colour, expressive line and articulation. … Sensitively and warmly accompanied by Sam Armstrong, Katharine Dain’s world class vocal tone and exquisite high register would be worth hearing just singing your weekly shopping list, and with such a programme this is a must-have disc for all collectors of good song recitals.”
—Dominy Clements, MusicWeb International, 17 December 2023

“The songs on Forget This Night reach musical and poetic synthesis seemingly effortlessly … in Katharine Dain’s performance. ********* ”
—Arnoud Heerings, Luister, February 2024

“If you seek a beautiful plea for love within the song repertoire after Schubert, Schumann and Debussy, it is this exemplary collection. Especially since Katherine Dain’s vocal possibilities are almost inexhaustible, from the most refined subtleties to violent exclamations, and everything in between.”
—Maarten Brandt, Opus Klassiek NL, March 2024

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