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Liebermann: Symphony 2 / Flute Concerto

4.0 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 24, 2000
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Dallas Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Andrew Litton
  • Composer: L. Liebermann
  • Audio CD (October 24, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Delos
  • ASIN: B0000508X6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #286,011 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Had I listened to this premiere performance of Lowell Liebermann's Symphony No. 2 without benefit of album jacket, booklet notes, or any other information about Liebermann (including his name), I would likely have inferred from this work that he is British. Or perhaps "was" British.

The arch-Romantic Symphony No. 2 is a throwback to an earlier time (a point with which Liebermann, according to fine booklet notes by Peter G. Davis, has no problem). In typical post-modernist fashion, Liebermann freely borrows from earlier styles and genres associated with Romantic music of the 20th century, yet succeeds in coming forth with a respectably fresh-sounding work, thoroughly tonal, often bracing, and occasionally even inspired. Scored for large orchestra, chorus and organ, the work - written to celebrate both the millenium and the 100th Dallas Symphony Orchestra season - is set to and around texts of celebratory poems from Whitman's "Leaves of Grass."

My first thought - on listening to the opening bars of the work - was that Liebermann is a post-modernist working along the lines of the post-modernist style of recent works of Einojuhani Rautavaara (a Finn, and perhaps the most successful composer presently living and working who can derive unique, fresh and meaningful musical gestures and rhetoric while working in a totally tonal idiom). These opening bars have a vaguely "Nordic" feel to them, making this Rautavaara connection fairly straightforward. (In point of fact, given that Liebermann is American, I find it more than a little interesting that the music brings to mind Rautavaara rather than Howard Hanson, that arch-Romantic Nordic-American composer.)

But this sense only lasts a fairly brief while, and then veers off into idioms that sound thoroughly British to me.
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Format: Audio CD
The SYMPHONY NO. 2 (1999) by Lowell Liebermann (born 1961) requires colossal forces, similar to those of Mahler's Second or Eighth, although it does not match those works in compositional scale. To get to the point: Collectors should buy this disc in short order before it disappears. It will likely become a sought-after item when its production run is depleted. This is because SYMPHONY NO. 2, with choral settings of Walt Whitman, rejects the alienating devices of modernism for an audience-friendly vocabulary close in spirit to that, say, of Howard Hanson, or the other American composers of the Eastman school. With Liebermann, it's as though Roger Sessions and Milton Babbitt never happened; Liebermann ignores the modernist ethos with the same blitheness demonstrated twenty years ago by Lee Holdridge in his whalloping CONCERTO FOR VIOLIN AND ORCHESTRA NO. 2 (1978). (Glenn Dicterow recorded it with the composer conducting the London Symphony Orchestra and it has been available on a Citadel CD.) In four easily discernible sections (played, however, without pause), Liebermann's score begins with a long-spanned Moderato during which the chorus intones cosmic verses from "Leaves of Grass" ("O, vast rondure, swimming in space..."). It would not be out of place in a Gene Roddenberry flick with the "Enterprize" voyaging among ice-moons in a distant solar system. Following this comes a magical metallophone interlude in the style of Hovhaness, which in turn leads to a crescendo in the chorus backed up by the organ. The ensuing movement, in march time, introduces the element of conflict. Here, Liebermann makes full use of the offstage brass called for in his score.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
Liebermann's Symphony No. 2 was written as a commission for the performing Dallas Symphony Orchestra, as a choral work on texts of Walt Whitman. The work shifts from massive choral sections through purely orchestral interludes. The "connecting tissue" is superb, the choral sections very heavy, with heavy, up-front percussion, sounding at times very much like Brian's Symphony No. 1 of nearly a 100 years ago. One wishes the composer had followed Mahler's also-100-year-old Song of the Earth instead, and turned most of the choral lines into soloist or vocal quartet work, reserving a full chorus only for the strongest possible emphasis. Then the percussion would not have to be so forward, either, to "keep up" with the massive chorale.
Nonetheless, an important addition to the repertory, along with the Mahler 8, Vaughan-Williams 1 and Brian 1.
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Format: Audio CD
I am a big fan of Lowell Liebermann's. I am learning his Second Piano Concerto and I have put the CD of his First and Second Concertos with Stephen Hough at the piano in my cd player many times. But this CD has only been in my player twice, and I expect to listen to it again soon, because with CDs you can get to know works very well and make better judgements on them. If you like Howard Hanson's Symphony No.7 (Sea Symphony)or Vaughan Williams's Symphony No.1 (A Sea Symphony) or Thomas Hampson's CD of songs on texts by Walt Whitman, you probably will enjoy Liebermann's Second Symphony. As you can tell, Whitman has been an extreremely successful poet with classical composers. I must say that the most interesting to me was to hear these texts sung by a solo male voice just accompanied by piano. Somehow adding a chorus puts a more 'public'feel to these texts, and I like the intimacy of the solo song better. These are not hard listening at all-no one should be afraid of Liebermann's music because it is very tonal and very listener-friendly. Whether this symphony is some of his best music, time will tell. I am more attuned to the virtuosity of his Flute Concerto than the rhetoric of the Symphony. Great performances all around of this music, and thanks for Delos and the Dallas Symphony for releasing it. Meanwhile, I will continue to learn his Second Piano Concerto, one of the best American piano concertos EVER.
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