P Lieberson - Songs of Love and Sorrow, The Six Realms
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Cat No: ODE13562
Number of Discs: 1
Release Date: 4th September 2020
ArtistsGerald Finley (bass-baritone)
Anssi Karttunen (cello)
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Lieberson’s Songs of Love and Sorrow is a deeply personal work. Lieberson had received a commission in 2005 to write a work for his wife, mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. This project was interrupted by Lorraine’s death and soon after also the composer was diagnosed with cancer. The news of being awarded the Grawemeyer Award for his earlier song cycle Neruda Songs (2005) encouraged the composer to write another cycle on Neruda’s poetry, Songs of Love and Sorrow. The work was premiered by Gerald Finley in 2010. The composer wrote in his programme notes: “I suppose that my life story of the past three years is not dissimilar to many others. The basic truths of love and sorrow are, I think, experiences that all of us understand very well. To have one without the other is not likely, but certainly it is our capacity to love that makes this human life so poignant.”
Buddhist religion had played a significant role in Lieberson’s life since the early 1970s. This also had an impact on Lieberson’s compositions. According to Lieberson, “When I started writing music again, my style had changed... There was less sense of struggle... the horizon expanded. It’s as if you had tunnel vision, and then you have panoramic vision. Studying Buddhism also affected my approach to composing [in that] I understand there’s a kind of journey that’s made.” Lieberson directed a Buddhist training centre for years before devoting his time exclusively to composition since 1994. At the request of Yo-Yo Ma, Lieberson conceived a concerto for amplified cello and orchestra, entitled The Six Realms, that outlines a key Buddhist teaching: that differing states of mind and emotions colour our view of the world and shape human experience. This philosophy is reflected in the piece’s formal structure; each of the concerto’s six continuous sections represents a different state of being.
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