Song of the Day: June 29

The Song of the Day for the week of June 29th comes from NYFOS Associate Artistic Director Michael Barrett:
As we roll into the summer Holiday weekend, I recall the many 4th of July performances I’ve conducted over the years. Gershwin, Bernstein, Duke Ellington, Tchaikovsky–great music from the usual suspects. But lately I’ve had a touch of melancholy this time of year. I realized that it is because this is the week Lorraine Hunt Lieberson died in 2006. Lorraine had many important NYFOS collborations with myself and Steve Blier over her short career, and she is deeply missed by the NYFOS family, and by music lovers everywhere. So I’ve decided to pay tribute to her artistry this entire week by sharing live performances she gave at the Moab Music Festival in 1997 and 1999.

Here is the Bach-Gounod “Ave Maria”. A generation or two ago it was a very famous piece, acceptable in the parlor, church, or concert hall. Florence Foster Jenkins used it as her signature piece, murdering both intonation and the high notes. In Lorraine’s hands this is a piece of transcendent perfection. If this is religious music, I’m ready to be baptized.

The Bach is of course the C major Prelude from The Well Tempered Clavier (Book One), with a gorgeous descant provided by Gounod. I’ve transposed the piece down a whole step to the key of B-flat. The performance took place in a magical grotto on the Colorado River accessible only by boat. It was an all-Bach concert that also featured the cantata “Ich Habe Genug” and “Bist du bi mir”. Several music aficionados who were present among the 90 audience members still maintain that this was the peak musical experience of their lives. I can’t disagree. Lorraine left us much too early. Thank God we have some recorded memories of her gift. Tomorrow, we’ll be hearing some Brahms.
Listen here: 

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