Friday, December 22, 2006

Neruda Songs

I enjoy Peter Lieberson's Neruda Songs on texts by Pablo Neruda without feeling that they tread any new paths. It seems like a soundtrack, if you know what I mean. If this is a soundtrack, what is the movie?

It is a great love story. Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr on the beach, perhaps, with the waves rushing over them as they kiss. There is great poignancy here.

My love, if I die and you don't,
My love, if you die and I don't,
Let's not give grief an even greater field.
No expanse is greater than where we live.

...We might not have found each other in time.

just as it never had a birth, it has
no death: it is a long river,
only changing lands, and changing lips.

These are the songs of a great love story, for the composer has written then both to and for his beloved wife Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, for her voice and for her soul, and the result is very beautiful indeed. He knows his wife's voice very well and shows it to wonderful advantage. He knows her sweet notes, knows how to show off the lushness of her middle register, the beauty of her glissando, the darkness of her low notes. Are you other guys paying attention? This is how it's done.

It is even more poignant that these songs appear posthumously. "If I die and you don't...."

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