Liebermann – Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, Op. 39

by Max Derrickson

Lowell Liebermann
(Born in New York City in 1961)

Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, Op. 39
1. Moderato
2. Molto adagio
3. Presto
During the 1980’s, American composer Lowell Liebermann was studying composition, conducting and piano at the Julliard School of Music in New York, and he recalls that his composition teachers told him that writing tonal music (and sing-able themes) just wasn’t done.  But Liebermann felt that the basic principles of music that human ears crave – tonality and tuneful melodies – were still worthy [. . .].

Liebermann became the darling of flute players with his 1987 Sonata for Flute and Piano, Op. 23.  In turns brooding and virtuosic, fiery and magical, no less a musician than Sir James Galway quickly included Liebermann’s Sonata into his repertoire.  With the Sonata adored by audiences and flutists alike, in 1992 Galway asked Liebermann to orchestrate the Sonata’s piano accompaniment for him.  Liebermann replied that he’d be happy to oblige, but would rather write Galway a full-fledged flute concerto.  And [. . .].

Beginning with a quirky, undulating ostinato in the trumpets and plucked strings, like the pendulum of a clock, the first movement soon immerses us into a fairy tale world of exquisite light and colors, and lovely song making – a Flutist’s rhapsody [. . .]  and the magical chaconne (variations over a repeating harmonic progression – in this case, the harmonies from the opening theme) in the middle section that emerges organically [. . .]   The second movement is equally as beautiful, but Liebermann changes the lighting: here a [. . .] Again, Liebermann uses repetition and [. . .] vast and sweeping, deeply poignant.  The Concerto ends with a perpetual [. . .]  feat of virtuosity and stamina.  For the listener, it’s a white-knuckle ride in a [. . .] hotter fire and [. . .].