29 November 2005

Lorraine Hunt Lieberson

Lieberson NERUDA SONGS; Boston Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, 28.11.2005; c. Levine; Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson.

In red, she is the color and sound of cool fire. Everyone else "sings"; on a perpendicular plane of beauty, Lorraine whispers in the spoken, earthbound, miraculous Callas mezzo. In the void, she speaks to you directly; the music falls into place; the event makes sense. Her gray resonance is unique: while other mezzos resonate from the chest outward into space (onto wood and through walls and dense air), her sound resonates from her chest but burrows deeper inside her warm insides: like the small vibrations I feel when I talk to myself (or sigh), or when someone's chest is nestled against mine and he (with concealed motions) whispers something in my ear, or else it's the feel of the deliberate physical action of my beating heart (at airports, train stations and other places of separation). That familiar, overwhelming sensation makes her singing a heavy, intimate, frightening thing. And when she scales the upper registers, the stress is palpable, and the sound comes out as elegant, bittersweet wails. Her vibrato occurs at natural intervals and in the right moments, and the plaintive tones that she forms to legato her phrases are sculpted exquisitely: the paradox of meticulously planned spontaneity, or the naturalness of awesome virtuoso. While deeply beautiful, her music is never a platform for high beauty: with her, song becomes a fundamental occasion. I adore her; she is singular, and beyond diva; she has no need for Opera Queen.