A couple of days ago, Renée Fleming’s latest album – ”Distant Light” – was released at DECCA. The album features music by Samuel Barber, Swedish composer Anders Hillborg and Islandic artist / composer Björk. The three songs by Björk has been arranged for orchestra by Hans Ek, and The Times praises the arrangements and the performance and give the album five stars! They write:
Then there are three songs by Björk. No tame excursions into crossover, these, but superbly reimagined arrangements by another Swede, Hans Ek, that show how much stylistic overlap exists between experimental pop and postmodern classical.
In the booklet interview that comes with the CD edition, Fleming speaks passionately about Björk’s originality. The amazing thing about the three Björk covers she includes here — Virus, Joga and All is Full of Love (with Undo added as a digital bonus track) — is that this originality of melodic line and harmony is preserved, while the idiom is gracefully transformed into that of the romantically orchestrated art-song. In the process Virus becomes more lilting than the original; Joga has its Scandinavian drone roots emphasised by clever instrumentation; and the gentle disco beats of All is Full of Love are sacrificed in favour of a sumptuous string background. I was transfixed by the lushness and emotional richness. Any of the three would make an apposite encore the next time Fleming sings, say, Strauss’s Four Last Songs — and I wonder if anyone in a concert-hall audience would identify the composer.
The German music magazine Klassik Akzente writes:
Um das Album perfekt abzurunden, hat Renée Fleming einige Songs der isländischen Sängerin Björk aufgenommen, die ihr persönlich am Herzen liegen. Der schwedische Arrangeur Hans Ek hat die handverlesenen Songs für die amerikanische Sopranistin neu orchestriert. So ergänzen die poetischen kleinformatigen Werke wie flirrende Polarlichter das weite Spektrum der Klangfarben, dem man auf dem Album begegnet. In den faszinierenden und atmosphärischen Aufnahmen kann sich Renée Flemings Stimme noch einmal glänzend entfalten.