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Lorraine Hunt Lieberson at Emmanuel

Lorraine Hunt Lieberson at Emmanuel

17 Jun 2008

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 20 Jun 2008
  • Label: Avie Records
  • Copyright: 2008 AVIE Records
  • Total Length: 1:00:51
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001HAHRKI
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 257,543 in MP3 Albums (See Top 100 in MP3 Albums)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Thomas H. Moody on 7 Sep 2008
Format: Audio CD
As a Boston resident from 1985-1994, I attended numerous Emmanuel Music events ranging from the Sellars production of Handel's "Giulio Cesare" (brought to Boston by Sarah Caldwell & the Opera Company of Boston) to several of the weekly Bach Cantatas that they performed Sundays at the Emmanuel Church services. I even returned to Boston once to specifically hear the ensemble's performance of Handel's "Solomon."

Emmanuel Music, under the directorship of its founder Craig Smith, never made much of a misstep in any of its performances. Undoubtedly the people who played and sang for Smith did so out of a love for the ensemble and a high respect, admiration of and love for him. The performances were outstanding because the performers were driven to perform for the experience and the musical involvement Smith provided them with, not for great sums of money.

Craig Smith was not a flashy showman kind of conductor (in fact he was quite the opposite) and one always suspected that he might be a bit eccentric in an endearing sort of way. However, what he was was a musician/conductor searching for truth in music and in character. And it's in that regard that he singularly stood out - not just in Boston, but also internationally. He always paid great attention to the finest of details in the music he conducted and he knew how to get refined, genuine and transcendent performances from those working with him. He was, in some regards, one of the musical world's best kept secrets.

I first heard Lorraine Hunt (later Lorraine Hunt Lieberson) in her phenomenal performance of Sesto in the Sellars' "Giulio Cesare" in Boston.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By B.D.A on 18 Jun 2008
Format: Audio CD
as with her bach (ASIN: B0000AOVTI) and handel (ASIN: B00022LZW8) recitals, the late (and very much lamented) lorraine hunt lieberson reaches heights in interpretation here that go beyond singing, one can really speak of identification. captured in live recordings of items she has not recorded elsewhere (two bach arias and most of the role of dejanira from handels hercules), this is singing that not only moves the heart but captures the soul of the music. perfectly partnered by the orchestra of emmanuel music (where she started off as a viola player!), it is an experience profoundly moving. one can only hope that there will be more live recordings to emerge in the coming years, as sadly mrs hunt lieberson passed away two years ago and this cd only shows us once again what a wealth of talent the world has lost...
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By TURO V. on 18 Jun 2008
Format: Audio CD
I think very few people with such a low profile approach in the operatic world held and still holds the iconic status that Lorraine achieved.
She did possess one of the most gorgeous voices of all time but she also had the qualities of the greatest singers: bear perfect technique and a fiery passion for everything she sang, but she would limit herself to pu that the service of the composer and the music.
She is a much missed artist and a beloved human being!

Thanks Lorraine, thanks a lot!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
64 of 67 people found the following review helpful
Their Artistry Is Their Legacy 11 Aug 2008
By Thomas H. Moody - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
As a Boston resident from 1985-1994, I attended numerous Emmanuel Music events ranging from the Sellars production of Handel's "Giulio Cesare" (brought to Boston by Sarah Caldwell & the Opera Company of Boston) to several of the weekly Bach Cantatas that they performed Sundays at the Emmanuel Church services, to a few of concerts in their Lieder series. I even returned to Boston once to specifically hear the ensemble's performance of Handel's "Solomon."

Emmanuel Music, under the directorship of its founder Craig Smith, never made much of a misstep in any of its performances. Undoubtedly the people who played and sang for Smith did so out of a love for the ensemble and a high respect, admiration of and love for him. The performances were outstanding because the performers were driven to perform for the experience and the musical involvement Smith provided them with, not for great sums of money. When Smith and the ensemble performed, there was always a sense that it was a "musical family" performing, a family who were all very comfortable in their environment.

Craig Smith was not a flashy showman kind of conductor (in fact he was quite the opposite) and one always suspected that he might be a bit eccentric in an endearing sort of way. However, what he was was a musician/conductor searching for truth in music and in character. And it's in that regard that he singularly stood out - not just in Boston, but also internationally. He always paid great attention to the finest of details in the music he conducted and he knew how to get refined, genuine and transcendent performances from those working with him. He was, in some regards, one of the musical world's best kept secrets.

I first heard Lorraine Hunt (later Lorraine Hunt Lieberson) in her phenomenal performance of Sesto in the Sellars' "Giulio Cesare" in Boston. I heard her on several other occasions as well, including a commanding performance of Cleopatra in Handel's oratorio "Alexander Balus" with Emmanuel Music under Smith's direction.

It could be argued that no one knew how to conduct Hunt Lieberson better than Smith. Likewise it could be said that Hunt Lieberson excelled in her singing for Smith, who had played such a crucial role in the rise of her vocal career, because they were musically on "the same page." She had evolved out of Smith's brand of musicality while individually searching for and finding command of her own voice and interpretative skills.

This recording is taken from the archives of Emmanuel Music (I wonder what else they have sitting around waiting for the world to hear) and is a tribute to both Smith and Hunt Lieberson. As expected from both of these artists, the performances here are more than "lovely", "pretty" or "splendid". What they are is music at its elemental truth - a representation of the finest of these two artists. These performances take the listener to the place in music where truth and art are whispered to them - not shouted. Here, both musicians understand that less is more when one knows how to strip away the gimmicks that music sometimes has thrust on it by conductors and/or performers.

The orchestra has a bit of a hollow sound to it, but the sound is quite true to what the performances at the Emmanuel Church sanctuary sounded like. Emmanuel's main sanctuary is quite large and Smith generally had a very small orchestra.If one likes recorded performances miked close, then the orchestral sound may be a bit of a disappointment. However, don't think that the "hollow" sound detracts any from the detail or articulation of the performances. Furthermore, these are live performances that were probably never intended to be internationally released. (But maybe any other recorded performances should be. The "Alexander Balus"?)

For those of us who heard Emmanuel Music so often, the recording is bittersweet. Somehow one thought Craig Smith and the ensemble would go on forever. It was simply expected. The same can be said for Hunt Lieberson. Who thought such a glorious voice would ever be silenced. But they both have passed on now. However Emmanuel Music still thrives - and I expect will continue to do so even though it may have to mourn for awhile. But I have no doubt that they will prosper because of Smith's dedication and love of them and because of their dedication and love of him.

If you have ever wondered what all the fuss was about regarding Emmanuel Music, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson or Craig Smith, this recording should stop that wondering. One rarely hears such refined and soulful performances. The Bach is sublime and Dejanira's arias from "Hercules" are, to this listener, without peer in their execution, depth, and character. The "Mad Scene" is stunning! This release will likely make many "best of " lists for 2008.

Although I never met or knew any of the members of Emmanuel Music, I will forever remember and treasure their gifts to me.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
almost perfect 5 Sep 2008
By D. Uhl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
In the August 2008 BBC Music Magazine, George Hall gave this disc four out of five stars. He didn't like some of Lorraine's fast passage work and found that conductor Craig Smith lacked impetus. Hmm. Not me. These are magically relaxed performances where soloist and chamber orchestra are almost literally singing to and with each other. There's something special going on here. And Lorraine Hunt Lieberson sounds completely in control of what she's doing. I don't think you'll be disappointed. If only there had been more.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A good memento of the singer 23 Sep 2008
By Tom Lawrence - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The centerpiece of this CD is a recital of selections from Handel's opera Hercules. The late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson sings Dejanira's recitatives and arias, following a path from passion and jealousy into madness. This program is bookended by two alto arias from Bach cantatas. While the Bach solos are musically more to my liking, the Handel material does well to showcase the mezzo-soprano's talent. For me there are three highlights to this disc.

- Track 1: "Kommt ihr angefochten Sünder" from cantata BWV 30. This is an ideal first song of the day as you start your car. The measured pulse of the music gently helps you wake up and takes the edge off the morning commute. Whether a trick of the composition, the performance, or the recording (or all three), the first note sounds like a pickup, with strings plucking the offbeats. Then twenty seconds into the piece your brain shifts and you realize that the song actually started on the downbeat. The effect is best when you are still partially asleep.

The singer uses her lower and middle register throughout the number, so no high shrieking to shock the system. There is a slight derailment at the recapitulation five minutes into the piece, but it sorts itself out in two beats and all is well. The flute plays a sparing descant to the voice, and it is pleasing to hear how effective a few well-placed notes can be. By the end of the work the instruments have warmed up and are parting ways in intonation, but you are awake and happy to be behind that school bus.

- Track 12: "Cease, ruler of the day, to rise." This aria from Hercules demonstrates why people are drawn to Lorraine's singing. She approaches music with such balance: she has a warm, rich tone, but never lets sound production get in the way of the text. No slaving to pure vowels, no over-pointing of consonants; never diction for diction's sake, yet the words come through with clarity. When she uses a grace note or a trill, it is not showy, but subtle and appropriate to the moment. That she makes all this seem easy is the definition of good technique. Handel's music draws her voice into a glowing upper register that pulls at her heartstrings, and ours. She has surrendered to the music and it is singing through her. Beautiful.

- Track 13 shows another side of Hunt's musicianship -- her abilities as a collaborative artist. Her attentive ear and generosity are evident as she seamlessly partners with soprano Jayne West in the Act Two duet, "Joys of freedom, joys of pow'r." This is an upbeat Handelian flow in the Water Music style, and you are now ready to face the day.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Tremulous Stones 14 Nov 2008
By Tony Consiglio - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
In the best parts of these performances - those mentioned by Tom Lawrence, but I would definitely add to his list "Where shall I fly" - Lorraine's flame burns fully as intensely and penetratingly as on her great Handel recording with Harry Bicket.

(In case anyone still doesn't know, Lorraine's two recordings with William Christie are at that level, too.)

Hard to find words for Lorraine. No wonder she made her husband think of Rilke:

Words still softly give way before the unsayable . . .
And music, forever new, out of the most tremulous stones
builds in unusable space her house fit for gods.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Celebration of the Gifts of Two Major Artists 20 Feb 2011
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This recording is an unusual one, the reason for releasing these never before recorded performances by Lorraine Hunt Lieberson is to honor or celebrate the memory of the departed, much beloved mezzo-soprano as well as the creator and conductor of the Orchestra of Emmanuel Music in Boston - Craig Smith. One only has to listen to this treasure to once again fall under the spell of one of the greatest singing actresses we have ever known.

Hunt Lieberson and Smith open the recital with a 1992 live recording of the Bach aria 'Kommt ihr angefochtnen Sunder' that is surreally beautiful. The major work on the CD is a performance of Dejanira's arias form Handel's 'Hercules' in which Hunt Lieberson is joined by the very fine soprano Jayne West and the Smith's brilliant accompaniment recorded in 1999. The arias soar and give us everything a performance of the entire opera could! This is dazzling virtuosic singing. Unfortunately audience applause breaks the spell, but then how could an attending audience not respond in this way?

The CD closes with another Bach aria 'Wie furchtsam wankten meine Schritte' recorded in 1995 with John Harbison assuming the conducting role. Again, singing and text commitment of the quality of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson is impossible to match. This is a treasure of a recording. Grady Harp, February 11
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