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<<  -- 2 --  Kelly Ferjutz    IN MEMORY


This is what I wrote then in my review:

When the newest work on the program garners the most interest and the most lively performance of the evening, it's time to sit up and take notice. That's exactly what happened at this week's concert by the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall. The Neruda Songs by Peter Lieberson -- written for his wife, mezzo Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, who brought them to scintillating and heart-felt life -- was, without doubt the highlight of the evening.

Some years ago, Lieberson stumbled over the sensuous poems of Pablo Neruda in an English translation while in an Albuquerque airport bookstore, and was immediately drawn to them. The more he read, the more he thought of setting some of them to music. It was a rather drawn-out process of settling on the five songs he would use, while eliminating the 95 that he couldn't use, at least in this first song cycle. (We can always hope for another one!) Following the same arch as the poet, he chose five that more or less echo times of the day: morning, noon, night, and evening.

Written as an enlarged love song to his wife, the songs are ravishing, especially as performed by the magnificent Ms Hunt Lieberson, who was making her Cleveland Orchestra début. Her gorgeously-colored voice soared or coaxed, as required by the songs. Guest conductor Robert Spano was an attentive collaborator, alert to her every nuance. Musical markings for the five songs are an excellent indication of their meaning: languid, brilliant, largo, passionate and peaceful. Lieberson kept the Spanish language of the originals and the music easily reminds the listener of their origins, with their sultry, sensuous melodies and rhythms.

At the conclusion of this marvelous love-fest, the composer joined his wife on stage in an embrace -- and kiss -- obviously inspired by the performance. It was truly special and will remain in my mind as one of the highlights of this season, regardless of the other concerts to come.

Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. Photo © Anne-Marie Le Ble
Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. Photo © Anne-Marie Le Ble

As will this line, 'But Love, this love has not ended ...'

Copyright © 8 July 2006 Kelly Ferjutz, Cleveland USA





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