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Peter Lieberson: Neruda Songs / Lorraine Hunt Lieberson

Release Date: 12/19/2006 
Label:  Nonesuch   Catalog #: 79954   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Peter Lieberson
Performer:  Lorraine Hunt Lieberson
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 32 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This beautiful, touching cycle of five love songs on poems by Pablo Neruda was composed by Peter Lieberson for his wife, the late mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. They were first presented in Los Angeles in May, 2005. This recording, released just months after Hunt Lieberson's untimely death, is a fitting tribute to her art. Peter Lieberson's earlier work tended to be 12-tone and thorny; here his musical vocabulary is more concerned with melody and the evocation of peace-within-love. Composed in a very comfortable, mid-range tessitura, the songs are as arrestingly lovely and moving as are Hunt Lieberson's performances of them. It will be a long time before another singer dares undertake a
Read more performance that might try to bring something new to the music.

Scored for mezzo-soprano and a bevy of instruments (not all of which ever play at once)--flutes, oboe, English horn, clarinets, bassoons, horns, trumpets, various percussion, harp, piano, and strings--the songs are all "approachable" modern music, filled with both drama and, at times, a distinctively Spanish flavor. Careful listeners will hear some early Alban Berg-like textures as well. The songs range from a sensual appreciation of the beloved and a fear of separation to a peaceful but very sad evocation: "My love, if I die and you don't."

Lieberson clearly composed them with great love for his wife; we the listeners benefit from that love in the direct, candid music and performances. The marriage of words and music rarely has been so happy--the sign of a great song cycle--and the mood of longing, satisfaction, and leisurely sensuality carries us from start to finish. James Levine leads the BSO with sensitivity and warmth. This cycle may just be the Four Last Songs of the 21st century. A must.

--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Neruda Songs by Peter Lieberson
Performer:  Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Venue:  Live  Symphony Hall, Boston, MA 
Length: 31 Minutes 51 Secs. 
Language: Spanish 
Notes: Symphony Hall, Boston, MA (11/25/2005 - 11/26/2005)
This composition was nominated for the 2008 Grammy Award for "Best Classical Contemporary Composition." 

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