Friday, October 14, 2011

CCC 01 - Lowell Liebermann

Last week I started the Consonant Classical Challenge -- finding contemporary composers that were writing music that is not only accessible, but well-crafted and worthy of repeated performance. The idea is to combat the perceived notion that everything after Brahms is snarly, dissonant and ugly. It's just not so.

Our first composer is Lowell Liebermann (1962 - ).

Liebermann is a talented pianist, composer and conductor. All of those talents come together in his music.  Liebermann has written operas, symphonies, concertos, and many other chamber works and solo piano pieces. His piano compositions lay well on the keyboard, and while it might be technically challenging, it's clear the composer knows what the instrument (and the performer) should be capable of.

Here's a good example, Liebermann's Piano Sonata No.1, Op. 1:

Liebermann's experience as a conductor is obvious in his orchestral writing. His knowledge of what each instrument can do and how they blend together show in his work. Below is the first movement of his Flute Concerto, Op. 39, composed for James Galway.  I don't think you'll hear anything that might send people away, screaming in terror.

But listen closely. This is not just pretty music. Liebermann carefully works through his melodic material. His chords may be tonal, but they're decidedly modern. And so too is his orchestration. Brahms didn't combine instruments that way, and neither did Mahler.

It's hard to describe, but there's a contemporary sensibility to Liebermann's music that make it distinctively of our time.

So the next time you peruse a symphonic concert season schedule, look for works by Liebermann. And if they aren't there, then ask the management why not? This is indeed music of our time that any audience should enjoy.

Recommended recordings:

James Galway plays Lowell Liebermann

Liebermann: Symphony No. 2 / Concerto for Flute & Orchestra

Lowell Liebermann: Piano Works, Vol. 2

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