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Liebermann: Complete Chamber Music For Flute / Alexa Still


Release Date: 07/22/2003 
Label:  Koch International Classics Catalog #: 7549   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Lowell Liebermann
Performer:  Alexa StillFranco PlatinoDavid KorevaarVictoria Drake,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 22 Mins. 

Special Order: This CD requires additional production time and ships within 2-3 business days.  

This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Lowell Liebermann (b. 1961), if he has created any controversy at all, has created it through his stylistic conservatism. He’s been touted as a sort of Spartacus for those who think “musical composition took a wrong turn at some point early in the 20th century,” to quote Peter G. Davis, who wrote the booklet notes for a Delos release (DE 3256) of Liebermann’s Flute Concerto and Second Symphony. Reviewing that disc back in Fanfare 24:4, I responded positively to this tonal and highly agreeable music, but I wrote that I “didn’t feel that musical history was being rewritten as much as it was being revisited.” Reviewing the same CD in the following issue, Walter Simmons (with whom I agree) was a little less charitable. He wrote, “while I am a Read more consistent advocate of communicativeness as an aesthetic necessity, mere accessibility is not a sufficient condition for a satisfying work, especially when one is aware that there is no shortage of recent works that offer fuller, more deeply rewarding experiences.”

So now comes a CD of the composer’s complete (or nearly so—see below) chamber music for flute. I won’t speak for Simmons, but do I have cause to change my tune? Nope. To paraphrase a well-known beer advertisement, “Sounds great, less filling.” Liebermann lacks nothing except a voice that is completely his own. It is unlikely a station-surfer will come across one of these works on the FM radio dial and exclaim “Aha! Liebermann!” before the music’s end. Is that a problem? No, not really, but let’s not make grandiose claims for this music. It’s enough to praise and enjoy Liebermann’s talent.

Still’s playing is eloquent throughout, and she is partnered expertly. She makes the flute sing, even when it is leaping from note to note like an excitable bird. Special mention should be given to tenor Curt Peterson, who has a most beautiful instrument with which to work, and he uses it sensitively.

Liebermann was not born to write music for the flute. His first piece to be written for this instrument, the Sonata for Flute and Piano, was commissioned in 1987 for flutist Paula Robison, who was impressed with an earlier piano work. The first of the two movements is a large and emotionally eventful canvas; the second—much shorter—serves as a relentless postlude. It is easy to hear why this sonata won prizes and is often programmed on flute recitals. This was followed approximately one year later by the Sonata for Flute and Guitar. Again, Liebermann pairs a long, varied first movement (marked Nocturne) with a short and brilliant second movement.

The third sonata was written in 1996. This time, it was a Sonata for Flute and Harp. Here, Liebermann’s writing is even more concentrated, but no less reactionary. The composer confounds the harp’s heavenly associations by writing music that is gloomily introverted— pretty, but in a morbid sort of way.

Less needs to be said about the other works. Liebermann arranged five short pieces from his piano Album for the Young for flute and piano especially for this CD. As you might expect, the music is very approachable, and surprisingly sophisticated, given the intended audience. The Eight Pieces (1997) are similarly brief, and one admires the composer for creating a mood in as little as 44 seconds. The Soliloquy, written in 1993, like everything Liebermann writes (in my limited experience), is thoughtfully and skillfully written, lacking only the fingerprints that transform craftsmanship into genius.

The masterful A Poet to His Beloved, for flute, tenor, and string quartet, is set to texts by William Butler Yeats. Liebermann’s word setting and sensitivity to instrumental timbre make this work particularly attractive. The cycle is comprised of six songs, but there were only five on my review copy. Why? Susan Napodano del Giorno, the label’s general manager, explains: “Koch’s desire to release the complete chamber music for flute of Lowell Liebermann has proven to be overly ambitious. The program proved to be too long to be contained on a single compact disc, by approximately four minutes! Since this error was discovered too late to correct the print, the accompanying print lists a Track 25, ‘He Wishes for the Clothes of Heaven,’ when in actuality this track has been omitted from the recording. Future pressings will correct this error by eliminating a repeat in one of the sonatas in order to eliminate enough time to include the missing track.” And there you have it. Always remember to plan ahead. Otherwise, the engineering is excellent.

-- Raymond Tuttle, FANFARE [1/2004] Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Soliloquy, Op. 44 by Lowell Liebermann
Performer:  Alexa Still (Flute)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1993; USA 
2. Sonata for Flute and Guitar, Op. 25 by Lowell Liebermann
Performer:  Alexa Still (Flute), Franco Platino (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1988; USA 
3. Sonata for Flute and Piano, Op. 23 by Lowell Liebermann
Performer:  Alexa Still (Flute), David Korevaar (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1987; USA 
4. Sonata for Flute and Harp, Op. 56 by Lowell Liebermann
Performer:  Alexa Still (Flute), Victoria Drake (Harp)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1996; USA 
5. Pieces (8) for Flute/Alto Flute/Bass Flute, Op. 59 by Lowell Liebermann
Performer:  Alexa Still (Flute)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1997; USA 
6. Album for the Young, Op. 43: no 6, Ostinato by Lowell Liebermann
Performer:  David Korevaar (Piano), Alexa Still (Flute)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1993; USA 
Notes: Arranged: Lowell Liebermann (2002) 
7. Album for the Young, Op. 43: no 11, Starry Night by Lowell Liebermann
Performer:  Alexa Still (Flute), David Korevaar (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1993; USA 
Notes: Arranged: Lowell Liebermann (2002) 
8. Album for the Young, Op. 43: Melancholy by Lowell Liebermann
Performer:  Alexa Still (Flute), David Korevaar (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1993; USA 
Notes: Arranged: Lowell Liebermann (2002) 
9. Album for the Young, Op. 43: no 12, Hommage à Fauré by Lowell Liebermann
Performer:  David Korevaar (Piano), Alexa Still (Flute)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1993; USA 
Notes: Arranged: Lowell Liebermann (2002) 
10. Album for the Young, Op. 43: no 14, Hommage à Alkan by Lowell Liebermann
Performer:  David Korevaar (Piano), Alexa Still (Flute)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1993; USA 
Notes: Arranged: Lowell Liebermann (2002) 
11. A Poet to his Beloved, Op. 40 by Lowell Liebermann
Performer:  Curt Peterson (Tenor), David Korevaar (Piano), Erika Eckert (Viola),
Judith Glyde (Cello), Yumi Hwang (Violin), Claude Sim (Violin),
Alexa Still (Flute)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1993; USA 
Language: English 

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