Liebermann: Piccolo Concerto; Concerto for Flute and Harp; Flute Concerto

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Liebermann
LABELS: RCA Red Seal
WORKS: Piccolo Concerto; Concerto for Flute and Harp; Flute Concerto
PERFORMER: James Galway (flute, piccolo), Hyun-Sun Na (harp); London Mozart Players/ Lowell Liebermann
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 63235 2
With a popular Flute Sonata tucked under his belt, New Yorker Lowell Liebermann, at the instigation of James Galway, moved swiftly on to concerto territory. Here Galway gives the recording premiere of these works, and true to Liebermann’s audience-friendly style, they burst with optimistic, tuneful melodies and glittering, dramatic climaxes.

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Liebermann is a flautist’s dream composer. Although much is virtuosic, he allows the soloist time to get involved. Expansive melodies soar in the highest register for minutes on end; there are no two-octave leaps mid phrase; passages using the lower register radiate amid sensitive orchestration, as in the dotted theme of the Flute and Harp Concerto. Liebermann adds vibraphone, celesta, marimba and piano to the orchestral make-up of Mozart’s concerto for the same instruments which instantly provides him with a modern palette. The outcome is exquisitely evocative.

The Piccolo Concerto, with all its frolicsome chases and Ibert-like freneticism, gives the instrument its sought-after identity, although the Mozart and Beethoven references sound a little obscure.

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Hardly surprisingly, the Flute Concerto’s ‘virtuoso work-out’ doesn’t produce a gasping sweat from Galway. Once more he excels technically with thrilling results. Occasionally I longed for a less throbbing vibrato in the more introspective passages. Kate Sherriff