The verses of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda have a strange pull among composers. The gamut of artists so drawn include jazz vocalist Luciana Souza; bands like The Brazilian Girls, Six Pence None The Richer, and Rachel’s; and numerous contemporary classical composers including Osvaldo Golijov, Peter Lieberson and Daniel Catán [curiously, both Catán and Lieberson died this month, both of whom were former students of Milton Babbitt, who died last month]. This eclecticism of this group is either completely random or totally universal. Therein lies the mystery.

The recent passing of one such composer, Peter Lieberson, sparked a bit of press this week, which led me to investigate his music. Lieberson’s 2006 masterpiece “Neruda Songs” features five poems scored for orchestra and voice, brilliantly performed by his now-deceased wife Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under James Levin). It left me gobsmacked; it’s gorgeous. The recording also has the weight of being a posthumous recording, released shortly after Ms. Lieberson succumbed to Breast Cancer in 2006. But even without all this tragedy, it’s a stunningly beautiful recording. Here’s a video clip of the closing track:

What follows is an excerpt of Neruda’s poem “I Like for You to be Still” (translated), which was the basis for a track on the Brazilian Girls 2004 debut album.

I like for you to be still: it as though you were absent,
and you hear me from far away and my voice does not

    touch you

It seems as though your eyes had flown away
and it seems that a kiss had sealed your mouth.

As all things are filled with my soul
you emerge from the things, filled with my soul.
You are like my soul, a butterfly of dream,
and you are like the word Melancholy.

Read the rest here. More on Neruda, here.