LOWELL LIEBERMANN: Sonata No. 3, Op. 82; Nocturnes: No. 8, Op. 85; No. 9, Op. 87; No. 10, Op. 99; No. 11, Op. 112; Variations on a Theme of Schubert, Op. 100; Two Impromptus, Op. 131 – David Korevaar, p – MSR Classics MS 1688, 68:28 ****:
At age 57, Lowell Liebermann has certainly established himself as one of the leading and most prolific composers on the American, and for that matter, international scene. His two operas, ballets, four symphonies, concertos and superbly crafted chamber works testify to an artist of wide interests and multifaceted abilities. Having completed his studies through the doctorate level at the Juilliard School with David Diamond and Vincent Persichetti, his compositional career has taken him all over the world, though he sees home base on the composition faculty at Mannes College, The New School for Music, and is the director of the Mannes American Composers Ensemble.
This is the third volume of piano music assayed by David Korevaar, a constant presence on the MSR label, and a teacher at the University of Colorado at Boulder among his multitudinous activities as performer. His association with Liebermann goes back to their shared student days at Juilliard, so he is an excellent choice in this repertory. Liebermann’s Piano Sonata No. 3, from 2002, is the last until 2012, when he penned a two-piano sonata. The work is a masterly mélange of formidable difficulties (the composer is a pianist himself), with its four movements interwoven with great contrasts, and earlier ideas returning in camouflaged form in the finale.
The four Nocturnes are the latest in a series started in 1986 (Op. 11 is from 2010). Even though spread out over such a distance, they are remarkable in their similar emotional content, dark, somewhat foreboding, yet seductive in their polytonal colors and melodic attractiveness. The Schubert Variations are a reworking of a concert band piece, taken from the Viennese master’s “Heidenroslein”, a simple yet fertile setting of Goethe.
Two Impromptus are the latest works here, dating from 2016, the first referencing the lower register of the piano, while the second explores polyrhythms in the left hand, both superb examples of the composer’s ability on the piano.
David Korevaar measures this music as only an insider can, providing sumptuous performances in outstanding, gracious sound. Do make the acquaintance of Lowell Liebermann in some form if you have not already. This is as good a place to start as any!
More Information at website for MSR Classics.