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A look at some new music.

By JOHN FLEMING
Published April 15, 2007


Lorraine Hunt Lieberson

Album: Neruda Songs Nonesuch

In stores: Now

Why we care: Mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson died of cancer last year at 52, and this is the posthumous release of her performance of five love sonnets by Pablo Neruda that were set by her composer husband, Peter Lieberson. They are from a 2005 concert with James Levine conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Why we like it: Hunt Lieberson was the great American mezzo of her generation, but her performances were relatively few and far between. John Harbison's The Great Gatsby (she was Myrtle Wilson) and Bach cantatas were among the high points. She brought an uncanny mix of earthiness and luminosity to the passionate Neruda cycle her husband wrote for her. Amor mio, si muero y tu no mueres (My love, if I die and you don't) is a heartbreaker.

Reminds us of: Maria Callas

Download these: Ya eras mia. Reposa con tu sueno en mi sueno (And now you're mine. Rest with your dream in my dream)

Grade: A

Sebastian Currier

Album: On the Verge (Koch)

In stores: Now

Why we care: It includes the premiere recording of American composer Sebastian Currier's Static, which won the prestigious 2007 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition.

Why we like it: This is the epitome of 21st century art music, with immaculate writing by Currier and playing by the Music from Copland House ensemble. Static, a six-movement, 27- minute work for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano, is an interior journey of rare intensity that builds to a burst of virtuosity in the fifth movement. The disc has three other works, including Night Time for harp and violin, whose five brief movements "share a sense of quietude, introversion, intimacy, and subdued restlessness," according to the composer.

Reminds us of: Nothing else, really.

Download these: Static, Night Time

Grade: A-

Philadelphia Orchestra

Album: Saint-Saens: Organ Symphony (Ondine)

In stores: Now

Why we care: Pipe organ fans, rejoice. Here's the largest concert hall organ in the United States getting a workout from French virtuoso Olivier Latry with the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Christoph Eschenbach. Consider the dimensions of the newly installed Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ in Philadelphia's Verizon Hall: 32 tons, 110 stops, 6,938 pipes.

Why we like it: Hold on to your seat for the mighty organ blast that kicks off the finale of the Saint-Saens Symphony No. 3 ("Organ"). Latry is the soloist in two more works for organ and orchestra, Samuel Barber's Toccata Festiva and, in a definitive performance, Poulenc's Organ Concerto.

Reminds us of: The Phantom of the Opera

Download these: Poulenc's Organ Concerto, Saint-Saens' Symphony No. 3

Grade: A-

John Fleming can be reached at (727) 893-8716 or fleming@sptimes.com.