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Peter Lieberson

Publisher: AMP

Red Garuda (1999),
Associated Music Publishers Inc
Soloists and Orchestra
Sub Category
Soloists and Large Orchestra
Year Composed
24 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
Programme Note
Peter Lieberson Red Garuda (1999),
Composer Note:

The idea behind my second piano concerto was inspired by the Eastern mythological creature called the Red Garuda. The Red Garuda is a large bird that travels continuously — it never stops flying, and never needs to measure its flight or its distance. In mythology the Garuda represents the personal principle of not having to restrict how far one can travel or go in life’s journey. It symbolizes an absolute freedom, if you will, and its flight is not dependent on conventional limitations.

In writing the work, I envisioned a huge bird flying over different types of landscapes. The opening of the piece presents a feeling of the bird’s appearance and its flight. This introduction is followed by a number of variations. These are based not only on the musical content of the opening, but are also based on different landscapes, with each one characterized by the traditional elements of fire, water, and earth (combined with wind).

—Peter Lieberson

  • Ensemble
    New York Philharmonic
    Peter Serkin (Piano)
    James Conlon
Lieberson's RED GARUDA is an illustrative symphonic poem with a prominent piano part. [The] garuda is a magical bird that features in Hindu and other mythologies. Lieberson imagined himself carried on the back of such a bird, over volcanic fire, an enormous lake and a mountain range. The heavy regular rhythm of the beating wings keeps reappearing from different instruments or groups - a horn, the strings, the solo piano - and the percussion often add chinks and tinkles suggestive of movement in the feathers made of unearthly copper. After an introductory section, one hears the fire, quite light and delicate in its energy, the calm water (a slow progression of chords) and the mountain winds. It is, for sure, beautifully scored and speaks of excitement.
Paul Griffiths, The New York Times,01/01/0001
Like a dinner party invitation, a world premiere is an exciting event. Ask Peter Lieberson whose RED GARUDA was premiered in Boston by pianist Peter Serkin, conductor Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony. Lieberson's new concerto, 24 minutes in four connected movements, hazily depicts an imagined journey on the back of a "red garuda," a mythical bird. Riding on his back, Lieberson surveys elemental landscapes. Each element becomes a variation, opening with a peaceful night. There's plenty to catch the ear, from tubular bells sounding an ominous, syncopated call to the wide whoosh of the enormous bird's flapping wings, an image passed around the sections of the orchestra. The muscular, jabbing solo piano acts as a commentator, sometimes instigator. Variations on fire, water and earth-wind are moodier, made vivid by declarative percussion statements, often colored with a tinge of the Orient. The concerto is melodic, dramatic and crisply modern-sounding... Lieberson convincingly builds grand statements, then, effortlessly, relaxes and understates the climax.
Pierre Ruhe, Financial Times,01/01/0001
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