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In Memory

Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's
visit to Cleveland


Last December, I was privileged to attend a very special concert by The Cleveland Orchestra [Thursday 1 December 2005, Severance Hall, Cleveland, Ohio, USA]. What made this particular concert so special was a new work, and the performer making her first appearance here.

There were other works on the program: Rapsodie espagnole by Maurice Ravel; The Mathis der Maler Symphony of Paul Hindemith and the Overture to Tannhäuser by Richard Wagner, but they were flat and colorless.

I said at the time: It's the Lieberson collaboration that will remain in memory, however.

Indeed it will. I can easily bring to mind the image of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson in a gorgeous bright red chiffon gown, her brunet hair curling around her shoulders, as she poured such emotion into these five songs written for her by her husband, noted composer Peter Lieberson.

During the pre-concert talk, Mr Lieberson told the story of how he'd stumbled over the Neruda poems in an airport bookstore. As he talked about them, Mr Lieberson choked up a bit while speaking of the final one, but then, it was known that Mrs Lieberson had recently been ill. In fact, she'd had to cancel a performance or two, and there was some speculation that she might not be able to come to Cleveland. How fortunate we were to have been so blessed by her appearance here in this special song cycle. It's hardly to be wondered at that her husband would stumble over the words

My love, if I die and you don't --
My love, if you die and I don't --

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Copyright © 8 July 2006 Kelly Ferjutz, Cleveland USA


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