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Critical Acclaim for Visca L'Amor
“This varied selection of Catalan art songs by tenor Isaí Jess Muñoz serves equally the troubadour under the balcony and the lovers inside. Each song illustrates the performers’ guidelines concerning ‘the sung application of the Catalan language’, exquisitely sensitive to the music in the poetry, suffused by passion and romance…In Narcís Bonet’s Haidé, a moment of ecstasy is followed by a Bach-like chorale and an arioso praising the sacrifice of love and emotion. Mompou’s Combat del somni are songs in the grand tradition, with the piano laying out lines in inevitable waves of quiet enchantment… Muñoz’s booklet notes address performance-practice issues and the challenge of reviving this remarkable repertoire.”
Laurence Vittes, Gramophone
“...vibrant new recording distinguished by the quality of its unusual repertoire and the strength of its ardent musicianship… Muñoz is a joy to listen to. Not only is his expression as pure as it is sincere, but the manner in which he sounds open vowels in the midrange is a bit reminiscent of the voice of the young Jussi Björling… his voice and renditions deliver such unalloyed pleasure as to ensure that many of these songs will find a warm spot in your heart… As far as ardent tenors go, Muñoz is right up there with José Carreras, which is saying a lot… there’s so much beauty to be had on this recording, that I recommend it highly. I also expect that, upon hearing it, many vocal lovers will want to seek out more recordings by Isaí Jess Muñoz.”
Jason Victor Serinus, San Francisco Classical Voice
"Five Stars: This Collection of Catalan songs brings into the light overlooked repertoire that really deserves to be heard. Muñoz and Glouchko’s iridescent performances are a real gift to the listener."
Michael Beek, BBC Music Magazine
“Tenor Isaí Jess Muñoz and pianist Oksana Glouchko revive the Catalan art-song tradition with revelatory and passionate performances.”
"Music and words brimming with urgency and passion, are illuminated by the fervent, vibrato-warmed singing of tenor Isaí Jess Muñoz, accompanied by pianist Oksana Glouchko. Les Paraules sagrades (Sacred Words) by Joan Comellas provide a richly satisfying conclusion to this richly satisfying CD."
Michael Schulman, The Whole Note (Canada)
"Homage to Catalonia…A beautiful collaboration. Isaí Jess Muñoz is a sweet-voiced tenor, astute. Oksana Glouchko is a skillful pianist, also astute. Their new album is both a service and a pleasure."
Jay Nordlinger, The New Criterion
“A strikingly beautiful recording… Sung passionately by Muñoz and luminously played by Glouchko… a thrilling introduction to a little-known musical world… replete with exceptionally fine, appropriately emotional singing and beautiful pianism, the songs themselves are a continually expanding treasure-trove, one after another filled with musical riches…Muñoz has written detailed and very interesting liner notes about both the songs and the political climate that denigrated them...The communication between singer and pianist in this recording is transcendent, with equal artistry on both parts, and the beauty of the songs themselves makes it all the more jarring that this vocal canon has been so shockingly absent from the world stage.”
Gail Obenreder, Philadelphia’s Broad Street Review
"The dose of art achieved through this album is high, enjoyable, and provides the listener with a wealth of sounds, colors and moods. This level is achieved thanks not only to the impetus that emerges from a refined interpretive delivery that balances technical rigor with the warmth and passion of Catalonian culture. The voice of the tenor Isaí Jess Muñoz is heard in full expressive form which achieves a fresh, clear and flexible emission with a degree of vital urgency, intimate, but also extroverted. And this would be impossible if it were not through the sound co-starring role offered by pianist Oksana Glouchko. Its delineated understanding of singing, its pulse and dynamic proposals, in addition to offerring pianism that is elegant and refined, gives this recording a vividness that attracts and prevents interest from waning throughout the program. This is how the merits of an outstanding artistic accomplishment and the laudable causes are linked in Visca L’amor."
José Noé Mercado, Pro Ópera (Mexico)
“This program of songs with texts by distinguished Catalan poets makes a welcome affirmation of this heritage. Munoz has a lyric voice with a sweet timbre…His long lyrical lines have grace and deep feeling without lapsing into sentimentality. Oksana Glouchko’s lyrical playing is in full accord with his singing.”
R. Moore, American Record Guide
"Five Stars: A perfect recording in which the fragranced harmonies rise to palpable ecstasy from Muñoz strong lines… a cultural milestone… the performing artists are as exemplary as the repertoire they interpret...Pianist Oksana Glouchko plays with incisiveness, rich tone. Every song is appealing and beautifully performed."
“The work of many Catalonian composers and performing artists was ignored or worse, censored…Fortunately, the golden-voiced tenor Isai Jess Muñoz has set out to unearth many of these neglected gems not only by performing them but by collecting them…This is a labor of love worthy of praise which one cannot stint on: Isai Jess Muñoz is a singing artist of the highest caliber, one who bestows his supple lyric tenor voice on this music obtaining by virtue of impeccable vocalism, sensitive musicianship, and a fine way with words a first class performance of songs from an unjustly ignored segment of the art song literature. Pianist Oksana Glouchko contributes to the impressive results of this one of kind recital with her superb accompanying."
Rafael de Acha, Music Notes
"Isaí Jess Muñoz is an operatic tenor of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent with a remarkably beautiful, radiant voice, a well-controlled timbre, and a unique sensitivity to the nuances in a poetic text. These traits enable him to be an ideal interpreter of songs of Catalonia that cry out for wider exposure to a world audience…. superbly partnered in the present recital by Russian born Israeli pianist Oksana Glouchko. Their close artistic and marital partnership may give them a special insight into songs in which sensuous sound unfailingly replicates the meaning of the texts."
Atlanta Audio Club
"We want to point out the strength and courage of Jess Muñoz, to recover this Catalan repertoire, which is part of our historical heritage. The selected works, his diction and the title of the album coordinate very well with the passion of the Catalan spirit. We commend Jess Muñoz and Oksana Glouchko for their serene, balanced, sensual performance. Two artists who will delight listeners."
Josep Bosch, Sonograma (Spain)
American tenor Isaí Jess Muñoz, whose beautiful voice, soulful performances, penetrating intelligence, and deep humanity make these art songs come alive for countless listeners. The result is a beautiful achievement; together with Oksana Glouchko at the piano. This ensemble belongs to the hearts of all who love good music and great musicality, great art and great mastery. The sound is clear, warm and true, and leaves you wanting more.
Luis Suárez, Naxos en Español (Spain)
"WHAT A GORGEOUS new release from Bridge… Muñoz not only presents a compelling sound but a natural instinct for the theatrical and ecstatic. Highly recommended."
Performing Arts Monterey Bay
About Visca L'Amor
As compared to the vast reference material devoted to the history and analyses of North American and other Central European classical song literature, little scholarly attention has been devoted to the art songs of Catalonia, the autonomous community in Spain. The repressive effects of the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s dictatorial ban on this region’s native language, Catalan, contributed to scarce diffusion of its classical song literature abroad. General public knowledge of Catalan art song stems primarily from the extant recordings of a few internationally revered native singers such as Victoria de los Ángeles and Montserrat Caballé. Despite the work of these extraordinary artists to champion the endangered music of their homeland, much work remains in order to achieve a deeper understanding of this music internationally. Our recording aims to illuminate this nationalistic genre—its history and its style—and also provide a context for understanding the performance practice, so that Catalan art song of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries may continue to gain recognition.
Spain’s landscape is vast, and Catalonia—joined by Castile, Andalusia, Galicia and the Basque country—enjoys its own customs and style. Indeed, Catalan art song has a distinctive musical voice and heritage, strongly influenced by its exchange of ideas on Impressionism and Neoclassicism with France. It’s important to note that areas of the French département of the Pyrénées-Orientales, recognized as Catalogne Nord (Northern Catalonia), was once part of the former Principality of Catalonia. Although ceded to France by Spain (1659), this region still retains much of its Catalan culture. The Catalan language is also spoken in the Principality of Andorra in Alghero, Italy, and other regions of the world.
Since 2010, concerts of Catalan art songs presented by the formidable duo of Isaí Jess Muñoz and Oksana Glouchko have generated overwhelming responses from audiences eager to hear more of this fascinating repertoire. Through these encouraging interactions, they were inspired to create this audio recording. History illustrates that something emerges from the human compulsions to look and record, to contemplate, even as we mourn. Much like the civil unrest and physical displacement endured by Catalonian artists, such as Frederic Mompou, Ricard Lamote de Grignon, and many contemporaries, troubled times have been inherent in many compelling artistic journeys; specifically, the frustration of seeing one's hopes and hard work either halted or not fully realized. For these artists, however, creating was an attempt to break free from the constraints of their present state, to draw on what they had already experienced, and to gain understanding of what still lay beyond the known and the present, in order to make peace and a positive difference. Beyond the cry for love of country, or amorous or fraternal affection, the music and poetry contained herein serves as compelling artifacts of human longing and endurance.
Tenor Isaí Jess Muñoz announces the release of his new album with pianist Oksana Glouchko entitled, Visca L'Amor: Catalan Art Songs of the XX and XXI Centuries. The Album is now available worldwide on all major platforms including ITunes, Amazon and Spotify.