This Island is extraordinarily well curated. One hopes it will engender further treasure hunts for forgotten female composers. Furthermore, the program eminently suits Narucki and Berman, both in terms of taste and temperament. It is one of the best recordings I have heard thus far in 2023.

Christian Carey, Sequenza 21
Phenomenal San Diego Women: Creators and Performers

"The San Diego Union-Tribune and the Women’s Museum of California are celebrating a century of female achievement in San Diego to mark the 100th year of women’s suffrage in America.

"The fifth installment of this series pays tribute to women in the arts — the creators and performers who have fed the imagination, challenged assumptions, entertained, enlightened and enlivened the world around them...

"...Grammy Award-winning soprano and UC San Diego music professor Susan Narucki is equal parts musician and social activist. Appointed UCSD’s director of art and community engagement in 2019, she champions timely causes with as much passion as she sings about them. In 2013, Narucki commissioned the chamber opera “Cuatro Corridos,” which chronicles the trafficking of women across the U.S.-Mexico border. It earned a Latin Grammy Award nomination. The second chamber opera she commissioned in this decade, 2018’s “Inheritance,” deals with gun violence. “As artists, we use our voices to address issues in the hope we create dialogue,” Narucki said in a 2017 Union-Tribune interview. She has more than 50 albums to her credit and won a 2000 Grammy as a featured performer on composer George Crumb’s “Star-Child” album. Narucki was a 2020 Best Classical Solo Vocal Album Grammy nominee for “The Edge of Silence — Works For Voice By György Kurtág,” on which she sings in German, Hungarian and Russian."

Karla Peterson, Michael James Rocha, George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune
This Island

"This Island began as a literary odyssey by soprano Susan Narucki, yielding significant musical discoveries in songs by mostly unknown female composers from the first half of the 20th century...These were serious composers...'Vous m'avez dit, tel soir, des paroles si belles' is set by Irène Fuerison (1875-1931)...Her songs are a significant find, with an emotional and harmonic range that suggests Hugo Wolf meeting Debussy...this album may well prompt a continued exploration of deeply literate composers who need not be lost and have much to offer the current generation of listeners." 

David Patrick Stearns, Gramophone

"The Best Classical Music Tracks of 2019: Hear our critics’ favorites, crossing six centuries, compiled over a year of listening."

-Anthony Tommasini, Zachary Woolfe, Joshua Barone, Seth Colter Walls and David Allen

 "precision and tenderness"

-Zachary Woolfe


Zachary Woolfe, New York Times

"Narucki invests these naked, improbably powerful pieces (and the brief silences that separate them) with profound tact and riveting musicality."


"radiantly conveyed"

"Narucki's instrumental collaborators are beyond superb."


"...performances and recording...are first rate."

Richard Hanlon, Music Web International

"The soprano Susan Narucki has been an unflinching champion of a huge range of contemporary music from both sides of the Atlantic for more than 30 years."


"[The Kurtág works on this disk are] music that demands the most scrupulous attention to detail...her performances convey that sense of having overlooked nothing, while always preserving the expressive freedom and intensity that are such a vital part of Kurtág's writing..."


"Narucki's wonderfully subtle shading and control registers each twist and turn in the journeys of every one of these songs. The instrumentalists are equally acute and alert."


"The whole disc provides total immersion in Kurtág's utterly distinctive world, one in which nothing is taken for granted and even the smallest detail is conferred with profound, totally compelling meaning."

Andrew Clements, The Guardian
Critic's Choice

"Narucki is a Ninja warrior in her ability to traverse this unrelentingly difficult (both musically and emotionally) Hour-long work with such immersive passion and intensity. All four composers make brilliantly imaginative use of the instrumental forces, and the astoundingly virtuosic players - Pablo Gómez on guitar, Aleck Karis on piano and Ayano Kataolka on percussion - are vital to the success of the performance. This piece is bracingly fresh, continuously fascinating and deeply disturbing; somehow, though, you emerge with a sense of optimism that, in the proper hands, ghastly human tragedies can result in great art."

Joshua Rosenblum, Opera News
H.Vásquez; A.Sierra; Liang; H.Paredes: Cuatro Corridos: A Chamber Opera

"This is a chamber opera...intimate, confrontational, disturbing and heartbreaking without ever seeming exploitative or melodramatic...Central to the success of this venture is the performance of soprano Susan Narucki, who commissioned the work...and has now performed it over a dozen times in the U.S. and Mexico...She creates the many voices that play roles in these stories with intense drama, great dignity, and deep empathy, her flexible and often resplendent voice creating ingenuousness, self-loathing, and abject despair with equal facility. She meets the many virtuosic demands of the four ballads with seeming ease, as do her three instrumental colleagues...The clear, immediate, vivid and truthful. Not to be missed."

Ronald E. Grames, Fanfare Magazine
Four Operas

[about Cuatro Corridos]: "...its tragic bearing is coupled with a high seriousness of purpose...The four scenes of this viscerally gripping chamber opera...relate stages in the exposure of an horrific human trafficking ring in northern Mexico...The soprano Susan Narucki, who commissioned the project for the University of California at San Diego, commands as the various women in an operatic must go too to her more-than-accompanists: guitarist Pablo Gómez, pianist Aleck Karis and percussionist Ayano Kataoka...Cuatro Corridos is a remarkable achievement. The performance is superb and Bridge's recording a triumph."

Guy Rickards, Musical Opinion
Vásquez; A. Sierra; Liang; H. Paredes: Cuatro Corridos: A Chamber Opera

"This is powerful, compelling, excruciatingly dramatic music...Narucki manages the huge vocal and dramatic demands with ease, displaying an ability to sing softly and at full throttle without ever losing tonal body, and an equal ability to invest what she is singing with meaning...This is a work of art that demands engagement, requires that you give it 100 percent of your intellectual and emotional attention...highly recommended." 

Henry Fogel, Fanfare Magazine

The American soprano Susan Narucki was so horrified by the human trafficking rampant on the border between the United States and Mexico that she decided to address the subject head-on: she commissioned a chamber opera for soprano and three players, a collaborative work that tellingly crosses borders. The result, Cuatro Corridos, comprises four scenes with libretto by novelist Jorge Volpi and music by two American-based composers (Lei Liang and Arlene Sierra) and two Mexican composers (Hilda Paredes and Herbert Vázquez)...Narucki is fearless and expressive as she inhabits each character. She shares the stage with equally intrepid colleagues: guitarist Pablo Gómez, pianist Aleck Karis and percussionist Ayano Kataoka.

Donald Rosenberg, Gramophone

"If classical music and classically trained artists are relevant in the contemporary canon, it is because of projects like Cuatro Corridos (Four Songs). While opinion makers argue about the issue of relevancy, artists like American soprano Susan Narucki and her collaborators are making it happen." 

Lou Fancher, San Francisco Classical Voice
Poems of Sheer Nothingness: Vocal Music of Aaron Helgeson

"This music isn't suspenseful; but rather, suspended. The confidence and skill of all of the musicians is in this ability: to judiciously exploit subtlety while completely avoiding any one voice screaming for attention even when Helgeson asks for extreme ranges. Soprano Susan Narucki is a natural choice for performing Helgeson's vocal music. If it wasn't written to her strengths as a vocalist, one would never know. She has an elegant way of working with words themselves in this recording. Even when she chooses breathy effects or softer dynamics, the text still shines through with clarity...It seems as though Helgeson, and Narucki with Talea Ensemble through their performance, desire that slight drifting of listener attention into imaginative thought and relish being able to refocus the attention on a new sound time and again. Listeners can put themselves in the place of the singer becoming somewhat lost in the act of singing and thereby find themselves, quite wonderfully, lost in the act of listening."

Megan Ihnen, Gramophone
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