Composer Peter Lieberson wrote Neruda Songs, based on Pablo Neruda’s poems, for his wife, the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, before her untimely passing in 2006. "They fell in love almost before meeting and throughout their nine years together her voice inspired some of Lieberson’s finest music," says the Financial Times. Neruda Songs receives its UK premiere with Sarah Connolly and the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican in London on Friday.
Composer Peter Lieberson wrote Neruda Songs, based on Pablo Neruda’s poems, for his wife, the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, before her untimely passing in 2006. The mezzo-soprano was posthumously awarded the Grammy Award for the Nonesuch recording of the piece with James Levine and the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2007. This week, Neruda Songs will finally receive its UK premiere, when British mezzo Sarah Connolly performs the work with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Jiří Belohlávek, at the Barbican in London, on Friday.
"When news broke of the death from cancer of American mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, in July 2006 at the age of 52, critics and audiences mourned the loss not simply of one of the world’s finest singers but of an extraordinary artist," writes the Financial Times' Laura Battle in a preview of Friday's premiere.
In advance of the Barbican concert, Battle spoke with Peter Lieberson about Neruda Songs and about the woman who inspired them.
"They fell in love almost before meeting and throughout their nine years together her voice inspired some of Lieberson’s finest music," Battle writes. "There is something Straussian about the strong, melodic vocal line in Neruda Songs and, with hindsight, one immediately thinks of the elegiac Four Last Songs, but the score also carries hints of jazz and a South American flavour."
Read what the composer has to say and more, including Connolly's thoughts on performing a work that is so intimately tied to the late singer, at ft.com.
For more information on the concert, which opens BBC Symphony Orchestra's 80th season, visit barbican.org.uk.
Earlier this week, NPR included Lieberson's Neruda Songs among "the very finest of the forlorn," in a list of six pieces of "the saddest music in the world," collected by NPR's Thomas Huizenga. "Music has tremendous power to validate the sorrow and set it free," Huizenga writes. "Lieberson's sumptuously scored music radiates the tenuous warmth of an Indian summer." Read more at npr.org.
To listen to selections from and purchase the 2006 Nonesuch recording of Neruda Songs, click here.