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  • Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    Brad Mehldau to Premiere "Love Songs" with Anne Sofie von Otter at Carnegie Hall Tonight
    Roberto Masotti

    Brad Mehldau will be joined by mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter in performance in Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium tonight for the world premiere of his new work Love Songs. The piece was commissioned by Carnegie Hall and written for von Otter. Its libretto comprises three poems by early 20th-century American poet Sara Teasdale, book-ended by a Philip Larkin poem at the start and one by e. e. cummings at the end.

    "Poems about love can invoke the celebration of love or the pain of love," writes the composer in tonight's program notes, "and my approach was to frame the five songs here with a painful poem at the beginning and the end of the set, and position the more sunny Teasdale poems in the middle. This seemed right: We love and are loved with immediacy, but if that love is unable to bloom, as in Philip Larkin’s 'We Met at the End of the Party,' or threatened, as in e. e. cummings 'it may not always be so; and I say' then pain takes its place."

    Nevertheless, that pain can take on very different forms, and, says Mehldau, it's the wide-eyed sort that closes the piece. "The more youthful bookend of cummings also seemed right to end on because when one falls in love at any age, one becomes young again, and not just in the joyful, carefree sense," he writes. "This green disposition is thus a permanent possibility as long as blood flows through our veins."

    Mehldau will also accompany von Otter on a number of traditional American popular songs, which will be announced from the stage. On the first half of the program, pianist Bengt Forsberg, a longtime collaborator with fellow Swede von Otter, will accompany her on works by Sibelius, Hahn, and Schumann, and perform piano works by Ravel and Dukas.

    In an interview for Playbill magazine, von Otter describes her introduction to Mehldau's work and the impetus for their working relationship. "I first heard his music on the radio, and pretty soon I had a big collection of his albums," she says. "He’s such a wonderful musician ... There’s a lovely, lyrical quality about his compositions which I can relate to."

    Brad has written two other works commissioned by Carnegie Hall for voice and piano, The Blue Estuaries and The Book of Hours: Love Poems to God. He premiered in the spring 2005 with soprano Renée Fleming, with whom he recorded the songs for the 2006 Nonesuch recording Love Sublime.

    For more information on tonight's program, visit carnegiehall.org.

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Brad Mehldau to Premiere "Love Songs" with Anne Sofie von Otter at Carnegie Hall Tonight

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on February 11, 2009 - 11:57am
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - 17:30
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Brad Mehldau will be joined by mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter at Carnegie Hall tonight for the world premiere of his new work Love Songs. The piece, written for von Otter, is Brad's third Carnegie Hall commission for voice and song; it is set to poems by Sara Teasdale, Philip Larkin, and e. e. cummings, each poet with a different perspective on love. Mehldau and von Otter will perform a number of American popular songs as well. On the first half of the program, pianist Bengt Forsberg will accompany von Otter on works by Sibelius, Hahn, and Schumann, and perform piano works by Ravel and Dukas.

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Brad Mehldau will be joined by mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter in performance in Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium tonight for the world premiere of his new work Love Songs. The piece was commissioned by Carnegie Hall and written for von Otter. Its libretto comprises three poems by early 20th-century American poet Sara Teasdale, book-ended by a Philip Larkin poem at the start and one by e. e. cummings at the end.

"Poems about love can invoke the celebration of love or the pain of love," writes the composer in tonight's program notes, "and my approach was to frame the five songs here with a painful poem at the beginning and the end of the set, and position the more sunny Teasdale poems in the middle. This seemed right: We love and are loved with immediacy, but if that love is unable to bloom, as in Philip Larkin’s 'We Met at the End of the Party,' or threatened, as in e. e. cummings 'it may not always be so; and I say' then pain takes its place."

Nevertheless, that pain can take on very different forms, and, says Mehldau, it's the wide-eyed sort that closes the piece. "The more youthful bookend of cummings also seemed right to end on because when one falls in love at any age, one becomes young again, and not just in the joyful, carefree sense," he writes. "This green disposition is thus a permanent possibility as long as blood flows through our veins."

Mehldau will also accompany von Otter on a number of traditional American popular songs, which will be announced from the stage. On the first half of the program, pianist Bengt Forsberg, a longtime collaborator with fellow Swede von Otter, will accompany her on works by Sibelius, Hahn, and Schumann, and perform piano works by Ravel and Dukas.

In an interview for Playbill magazine, von Otter describes her introduction to Mehldau's work and the impetus for their working relationship. "I first heard his music on the radio, and pretty soon I had a big collection of his albums," she says. "He’s such a wonderful musician ... There’s a lovely, lyrical quality about his compositions which I can relate to."

Brad has written two other works commissioned by Carnegie Hall for voice and piano, The Blue Estuaries and The Book of Hours: Love Poems to God. He premiered in the spring 2005 with soprano Renée Fleming, with whom he recorded the songs for the 2006 Nonesuch recording Love Sublime.

For more information on tonight's program, visit carnegiehall.org.

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