Peter Lieberson: Songs of Love and Sorrow; The Six Realms

Anssi Karttunen, cello
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Hannu Lintu, conductor

Ondine / 2020


This new album by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and its chief conductor Hannu Lintu is dedicated to works by American composer Peter Lieberson (1946–2011). This album features award-winning bass-baritone Gerald Finley as soloist in Lieberson’s song cycle Songs of Love and Sorrow and Lieberson’s close friend Anssi Karttunen as soloist in The Six Realms for cello and orchestra.

Lieberson’s Songs of Love and Sorrow is a deeply personal work. Lieberson had received a commission in 2005 to write a work for his wife, mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. This project was interrupted by Lorraine’s death and soon after also the composer was diagnosed with cancer. The news of being awarded the Grawemeyer Award for his earlier song cycle Neruda Songs (2005) encouraged the composer to write another cycle on Neruda’s poetry, Songs of Love and Sorrow. The work was premiered by Gerald Finley in 2010. The composer wrote in his program notes: “I suppose that my life story of the past three years is not dissimilar to many others. The basic truths of love and sorrow are, I think, experiences that all of us understand very well. To have one without the other is not likely, but certainly it is our capacity to love that makes this human life so poignant.”


The Six Realms (2000) for amplified violoncello and orchestra
1 The Sorrow of The World
2 The Hell Realm
3 The Hungry Ghost Realm
4 The Animal Realm
5 The Human Realm
6 The God Realm and The Jealous God Realm

Songs of Love and Sorrow (2010) for baritone and orchestra
7 Sonnet XLVI (“Des las estrellas que admiré,…”)
8 Sonnet XII (“Plena mujer, manzana carnal, luna caliente…”)
9 Sonnet LII (“Cantas y a sol y a cielo con tu canto…”)
10 Sonnet LXIX (“Tal vez no ser es ser sin que tú seas…”)
11 Sonnet LXXXII (“Amor mío, al cerrar esta puerta nocturna…”)