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Records International, September 2020

The concerto begins with an ominous and dramatic introductory movement, The Sorrow of the World, a harsh, angular lament for the condition into which the soul has to be reborn again and again. The first movement proper depicts The Hell Realm, a temporary realm of torment (not, of course, eternal damnation), the result of an accumulation of bad karma. It opens with angry, agitated mutterings from the cello, which lead into a series of volcanic outbursts of rage. The furious energy eventually dissipates, and the cello ends the movement quietly and sorrowfully, leading without pause into the yearning, leaden, anguished “Hungry Ghost Realm”, where unfulfilled, unsatisfied souls roam, seeking satiety for their unquenchable desires. The Animal Realm, a boisterous, rough scherzo follows, full of activity and unreasoned impulses, somewhat humorous but not exactly enlightened. The cello inhabits The Human Realm mostly unaccompanied, trying to make sense of the consciousness to which better Karma has finally led it. The demigods are next, causing trouble to both humans and gods, in music that veers abruptly between agitated, radiantly magnificent and titanically warlike. This transitions directly into The God Realm, a triumphant, consonant conclusion. © 2020 Records International Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, September 2020

Peter Lieberson was born in New York City in 1946, among his many musical mentors and influences were the composers, Milton Babbitt and Charles Wuorinan.

His early career was divided between educating the younger generation and a modest output of works, only deciding to devote his life to composition in 1994. In the following 17 years, before his early death in 2011, he completed most of his fifty-five scores that ranged in size and scope from opera to pieces for solo piano. The two works in this new release date from the present century, the earlier one a score for amplified cello and orchestra. The Six Realms takes its name and content from the realms in Tibetan Buddhism, that religion having dominated much of his early years, the composer detailing those realms in the programme notes that he prepared for its first performance with Yo-Yo Ma as soloist. For the listener, Lieberson crafted a work where traditional tonality has undergone many transitions but is still recognisable. The soloist has the main melodic line, while the orchestra is placing ‘colouring’ on the attire of each realm. The result is a very powerful score, disturbing in The Hell Realm, the second of the six; powerful in Hungry Ghost that follows, and leading to the final The God Realm and the Jealous God Realm. A hugely demanding work for the famous Finnish cellist, Annsi Karttunen. Ten years later, and in memory of his dear departed wife, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, and knowing of his own imminent death, he completed Songs of Love and Sorrow, five sonnets by Pablo Neruda. The words, also in an English translation come in the disc’s booklet. They are mostly sad, Lieberson, returning to melodic creativity, even to the days of Mahler, and here turned into love and pathos by the English baritone, Gerald Finley. It comes in a concert performance, from the Finnish Radio Orchestra inspired by their conductor, Hannu Lintu, in a superbly engineered recording. Surely, in years to come, these two works will be regarded among the finest in the early 20th century. © 2020 David’s Review Corner

Lynn René Bayley
The Art Music Lounge, August 2020

…Finley retains the solid timbre and beautiful tone he has displayed in the world’s opera houses and concert stages for decades. He is also an expressive singer in his own subtle way; he knows how to interpret words and make them interesting to the listener. Nowhere is this more evident than in the third song, “Cantas y a sol a cielo con tu canto” or “You sing to the sky and the sun with your song, you thresh the day’s grain.”

…This is a splendid representation of Lieberson’s music, and throughout these pieces Lintu conducts with a real love and feeling for every phrase. © 2020 The Art Music Lounge Read complete review

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