Demonstrating ASO Music Director Robert Spano's enduring commitment to new music, ASO Media presents a stirring pairing of compositions by 21st century composers. Both works are about emotional journeys. Symphony, written by Atlanta School composer Christopher Theofanidis, is a piece written in response to momentous events in the composer's personal life. Not unlike other composers (Beethoven for example), personal crises inspire strong artistic reactions. Such is the case with The Theofanidis Symphony. The Neruda Songs are a similar example of such a journey. Since this work was written and premiered, both the composer and his muse (Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, for whom he wrote the work) have passed away from cancer. When writing the piece, Mr. Lieberson and Ms. Hunt had already been through one bout of cancer (hers) and these songs were written well in the knowledge that they might be valedictory compositions. They were, first for her and now for him. From personal challenges comes often great art.
A note from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra:
All of us who were involved with this project are deeply saddened by the passing of Peter Lieberson, a great artist and musical partner. This recording is dedicated to his memory. We are proud to be a part of his legacy that lives on through his extraordinary music.
Mezzo Soprano Kelley O'Connor was the first to perform the Neruda Songs after the death of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. The composer himself taught her the songs, one a day, over a five day retreat. O'Connor said in a 2008 interview with the Denver Post, 'Once it became that personal to me that he became a friend to me, I felt honored to tell their story, because it is their story.'
With singing that managed to be at once seductive and haunting, O'Connor was equal to this smoldering music in every way. (Peter Lieberson's Neruda Songs) --Kyle MacmIllan, The Denver Post, January 2010
Listening to it we hear celebratory Ottorion Respighi-style processionals, percussive syncopation a la John Adams and some heroic outbursts that might easily fit in place of Howard Shore s soundtrack for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra - the team that commissioned the piece in 2009 give an authoritative reading. --Opera News, September 2011