Review by Barry L. Cohen in magazine then called The Music Connoisseur (v.2 #2, pp.6-8) of Leonard LEHRMAN: Seven Love Peoms (1993), Performed March 11, 1994 on program with music by Kupferma, Pollock, St. Croix, Schonthal, Tsontakis, Ung at the Kosciuszko Foundation, 15 #. 65th Street, N.Y.C. on March 11, 1994.
The growing reputation of Composers Concordance (CC) was in evidence at its second New Music Now! series concert of the season. Nearly all of the 80 seats in the Kosciuszko Foundation's auditorium were occupied by starting time and some latecomers had to stand...
[included captioned photo of Leonard Lehrman and Helene Williams]
...There is something to be said for the intimacy and understatement of Lehrman's setting of seven poems by Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, an activist and one-time [leading] member of the Communist Party. (A letter by Corliss Lamont telling of her expulsion from the Board of [the] ACLU in 1940 was included with Lehrman's printed song text.) These lyrics are touching if somewhat naive, some as simple as "The beauty of love, the duty of love..." etc., etc.). It's the sort of material that attracts composers; great poetry is often tougher to set. Ms. Williams, as always, used her lyric soprano voice sensitively with phrasing that was sympathetic and understanding, while Mr. Lehrman's accompaniment was carefully subdued. These settings, though, could have done with a bit more topography in the melodic line which, as is Mr. Lehrman's wont, too often misses the exalted lyricism desperately needed to caress the ears. He is essentially an intellectual composer and his intent, no doubt, in the case of Flynn's words was to portray a sense of yearning. Perhaps these qualities will become more apparent upon rehearing, as Ms. Williams, for her part, certainly projected a strong sense of conviction.