Sunday, September 24, 2006

A la recherche du mot juste

I clicked on a link to Alex Ross's blog yesterday and discovered one of his finest columns: his beautiful and honest remembrance of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. Yes, how I too discovered that it's possible to mourn the loss of someone you've never met (as Ross so perfectly put it, "I never got closer to her than Row H"), and to reach a level of appreciation for which there are no words. The most striking passage:

In the days after she died, I tried to write about her, and failed. It felt wrong to call her “great” and “extraordinary,” or to throw around diva-worship words like “goddess” and “immortal,” because those words placed her on a pedestal, whereas the warmth in her voice always brought her close. Nonetheless, empty superlatives will have to do. She was the most remarkable singer I ever heard.

It's a statement as direct and as meaningful as Lieberson's solid and irreplaceable artistry. Mr. Ross, while no one has found the right words to describe Lieberson--an artist who came as close to truth as a person could--you've done well in characterizing that space where words fail.

I have my own remembrance to write, but it will be many more months.

No comments: