“merciless beauty”

Our album is out!! Regards sur l’Infini was officially born on November 27th, 2020. Sam and I performed a small CD release concert in the gorgeous concert hall in Nijmegen, the same space where we recorded, that night, and we are overwhelmed by the positive response to the disc so far.

The Guardian chose Regards sur l’Infini as their classical pick of the week: “a memorable, effortlessly polished album.”

MusicWeb International has given us a sublime review and one of their coveted “Recommended” labels.

Beautifully recorded, exquisitely performed. … Katharine Dain is perfection itself. Her tone is light but not insubstantial, flexible, expressive and colourful, with a natural vibrato that you can listen to forever. Sam Armstrong’s accompaniment is sensitive and equally expressively communicative, an ideal mirror to Dain’s voice. … A superbly curated programme of French music. … This is the kind of recording that reminds us that there is not only beauty in melancholy, but also a wealth of inspiration.

—Dominy Clements, MusicWeb International, 25 November 2020

Dutch newspaper Trouw also wrote the following extremely sympathetic review:

The American Katharine Dain is a special soprano. Multifaceted, too. She shone as Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni with the Orchestra of the 18th Century, and with the Netherlands Student Orchestra she surprised us in February of this year with a scorchingly sung Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde.

And then everything shut down. Dain describes beautifully in the CD booklet what this meant for her and her musical partner Sam Armstrong. In the first weeks, they closed themselves in to learn thoroughly Messiaen’s song cycle Poèmes pour Mi, intended for a later recital. But weeks became months, and the recital never came. Instead, the idea for this CD project ripened. The Messiaen cycle sits precisely in the center; French songs by Kaija Saariaho, Henri Dutilleux, Claude Debussy, and Claire Delbos (the first wife of Messiaen) precede it. After the Messiaen cycle are songs by the same composers in the opposite order. A palindromic program, then, and what a program!

Dain herself wrote the outstanding 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, Trouw, 20 November 2020

We’ve also been happy to read portraits of us and the project in Place de l’Opéra and Planet Hugill. More interviews and reviews are forthcoming. We also discovered entirely by accident that we are Opera Nederland’s CD of the Month–hurrah!

It’s very gratifying, especially because the process of making this disc was unusually solitary, to hear how many people are enjoying what we’ve made. Feel free to read more about it or order your own copy from me directly, if you’d like.

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