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Culture Watch: Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's historic recording of Berlioz

March 29, 2011 |  8:30 am

LHL_Berlioz_Handel_250x250 Berlioz: “Les Nuits d’été” and Handel: Arias With Lorraine Hunt Lieberson

(Philharmonia Baroque Productions)

The Philharmonia Baroque is another Bay Area orchestra that has started putting out its own recordings; its first release is a  historic 1995 live performance of Berlioz’s song cycle sung by Lorraine Hunt (before she added the Lieberson) with Nicholas McGegan conducting.

The American mezzo, who died in 2006, may have never commercially recorded “Nuits d’été” (“Songs of a Summer Night”), but this posthumous release makes up for it. Her Berlioz is so richly nuanced and lusciously textured that it feels almost decadent to listen to the disc more than once, yet impossible not to.

The seven Handel arias came from a concert performance in 1991. While impressive, they do not yet show the full volcanic Handelian range of the later Hunt Lieberson.

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-- Mark Swed

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