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Posted October 1, 2010
There are great love stories about artists through the centuries but few would equal the purity of the love story of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson and Peter Lieberson. History will always remember this treasured couple for their individual gifts to music (Lorraine with her inimitable mezzo voice intrinsically involved in whatever she elected to sing and Peter for his lushly beautiful yet rewardingly avant garde compositions) and it is so very fitting that the final moments from their lives together should have been a song cycle on which they collaborated. This listener heard the performance of the Neruda Songs in May 2005 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a passionate, soaringly resonant and rich evocation of the language and the soul of Pablo Neruda's poetry: Lieberson was incomparable. It is so fitting that she left with us a live performance of the five songs written for her by her husband with the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by James Levine (the cycle was co-commissioned by both the Los Angeles and Boston forces). The result is now a gold standard of not only the magnificence of this erotically charged cycle but also of the eloquence of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's voice and legacy. The cycle of five poems is some of the finest writing for voice and orchestra to grace our halls in some years. And while it is impossible to find a flaw in either the composition or the performance, the breathless closing of the cycle (in translation) 'But love, this love has not ended: just as it never had a birth, it has no death: it is like a long river, only changing lands, and changing lips' and then the repeated 'amor, amor, amor.....'. There are few works so perfectly created, so sublimely performed. This is a recording that will never tarnish but only gleam with age. Grady Harp
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