Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson has died.

Never far from my CD player, Lieberson's recording of Bach's Cantatas BWV 82 and 199, has been a favorite piece of music of mine for the last few years, both a consolation and a provocation to deeper feeling. The NY Times obit today reviews her career.

"...her shattering performances several years ago in two Bach cantatas for solo voice and orchestra, staged by the director Peter Sellars, seen in Lincoln Center's New Visions series, with the Orchestra of Emmanuel Music, Craig Smith conducting.

In Cantata No. 82, "Ich Habe Genug" ("I Have Enough"), Ms. Hunt Lieberson, wearing a flimsy hospital gown and thick woolen socks, her face contorted with pain and yearning, portrayed a terminally ill patient who, no longer able to endure treatments, wants to let go and be comforted by Jesus. During one consoling aria, "Schlummert ein, ihr matten Augen" ("Slumber now, weary eyes"), she yanked tubes from her arms and sang the spiraling melody with an uncanny blend of ennobling grace and unbearable sadness."

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