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Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Rilke Songs

lieberson_fullI continue to be smitten with the work of Richard Avedon. Left, is his  “Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, American mezzo-soprano, October 1, 2003”. It is an eerie actuality that, to the day, one year later, Richard Avedon would die. Even more disturbing was the untimely death of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson on July 3, 2006, at the age of 52. I was shaken, for she truly embodied the music she sang. “So strong, so vibrant and so utterly communicative, they are as if tones were made flesh.”, Mark Swed, Times Staff Writer | September 30, 2003.

Here, from Rilke Songs, a collaboration with her husband, composer Peter Lieberson, for which The Grammy’s posthumously awarded her 2006, Best Classical Vocal Performance, Part two; XXIX.

 

Rilke Songs (1997-2001), Composer Peter Lieberson

Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, mezzo-soprano, Peter Serkin, piano

 

The Sonnets to Orpheus, Rainer Maria Rilke,

Part two; XXIX

Silent friend of many distances, feel
how your breath enlarges all of space.
Let your presence ring out like a bell
into the night. What feeds upon your face
grows mighty from the nourishment thus offered.
Move through transformation, out and in.
What is the deepest loss that you have suffered?
If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine.

In this immeasurable darkness, be the power
that rounds your senses in their magic ring,
The sense of their mysterious encounter.

And if the earthly no longer knows your name,
whisper to the silent earth: I’m flowing.
To the flashing water say: I am

English translation © Stephen Mitchell

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