of Overland Dream, for violin, clarinet, cello and piano:
Overland Dream, by Peter Lieuwen, comfortably occupied the center of the concert with a stirring single movement piece that reveled in dramatic, fully voiced unison passages, at times turning David Mollenauer’s cello and Ertan Torgul’s violin into a full string section. Definitely the most balanced work of the evening.
—Scott Andrews, San Antonio Current, 11/15/2011
of Sonata for Guitar (2009):
Bustos turned to a new work, written by Peter Lieuwen, an American composer and a colleague of Bustos at Texas A&M University. Lieuwen has been commissioned, performed, and recorded by orchestras, ensembles, and artists throughout North America and Europe. His wonderful Sonata for Guitar, written for and dedicated to Bustos, is a major work in three movements that features asymmetrical rhythms of world music, impressionistic harmonies, classical development, and exciting virtuosity — all of which Bustos handled with great aplomb. I certainly hope he records this soon.
—Scott Cmiel, San Francisco Classical Voice, 11/16/ 2011
of the Naxos CD, Gulfstream:
Peter Lieuwen is much less known to me than the other composers represented here. Born in the Netherlands but raised in New Mexico, Lieuwen’s style is truly eclectic and draws upon everything from minimalism to impressionism to – even – touches of Messiaen. Gulfstream is titled in representation of the flow and effects of the warm, coastal currents that annually traverse their path from the Gulf of Mexico to northwestern Europe. Written in 2007 to honor the anniversary of Messiaen’s great work, this is a wonderful single movement piece that flows, much as the waters it depicts, through tonalities and moods. The pulse is frequently carried by the piano and the overall effect is actually quite soothing.
—Daniel Coombs, Audiophile Edition, 1/31/2012
Lieuwen’s Gulfstream was composed in honor of Messiaen’s 100th anniversary, and uses the same instrumentation as his Quartet for the End of Time. A reference to the physical phenomenon (not the luxury jet), the piece contains hints of jazz and minimalism to depict water in various states, inspired by the oceans currents’ role in contemporary climate change. It brims with infectious syncopations and good humor, and is clearly the product of a composer well acquainted with drawing on ecological phenomenon as inspiration.
—Michael Cameron, Fanfare, March/April 2012
Peter Lieuwen’s mostly mellifluous Gulfstream (an aural portrait of the Atlantic current, not the American touring caravans) was also dedicated to Enhake; in addition to its compelling eco-theme, it celebrated the Messiaen centenary in 2008. The music is entirely noble, and even its few harmonic doubts are washed away by the sheer beauty of the instrumental writing.
—LAURENCE VITTES, GRAMOPHONE, May 2012
Peter Lieuwen - born in Utrecht, raised in New Mexico - contributes Gulfstream, from 2007, a work which “reacts to his aural impression of the Gulfstream [sic] current,” partly inspired by global warming. That kind of description usually means I’ll hate a piece: compositions inspired by global warming? An ocean current can yield aural impressions? Will there be a sequel about air currents depositing Chinese industrial pollution over New Mexico and west Texas? But Lieuwen’s piece does indeed aspire to evoke, for chamber ensemble, the rough-and- tumble of a warm seascape. By and large it succeeds; it’s quite a pleasure to listen to, and some of the quieter passages (as after 2:45) are frankly wonderful, as is the coda.
—Brian Reinhart, MusicWeb International, May 2012
of Astral Blue for orchestra:
It is astonishing what this large orchestra, under the direction of Horst Förster, can draw out of the musical score. It begins with an atmospheric harp sound that rubs-off on march-like strings. The B-A-C-H motif is the internal energy that repeatedly gains new strength. Separated violins and violas combine in melodic layers, out of which large blocks are struck. This piece does not become tedious, even when it tries the templates of minimalist music tradition. It is clear, exuberant, booming and is reminiscent of a Jackson Pollock painting.
—Christian Fanghänel, Leipziger Volkszeitung, 5/23/2007
of the Albany Records CD Living Waters:
It has been a long time since music by Peter Lieuwen came my way (Mar/Apr 1992:180). I was impressed by his brass quintet Celestial Voices then, and I am impressed again now. Lieuwen (b. 1953), a composition professor at Texas A&M University, dabbles in various styles to create evocative music. Minimalist flavors are frequent but never tiresome. Passages sometimes sound much like those of other composers, such as when (in Living Waters, 1996) aggressive bass-drum and timpani crescendos bring Stravinsky's Rite of Spring to mind. Ringing percussion often reminds me of Joseph Schwantner, but Lieuwen is more delicate and less insistent.
The big piece is the Violin Concerto (2001), given a vivid reading by University of Houston professor Andrzej Grabiec with his school's orchestra. Anachronisms (1986) is played beautifully by clarinetist Jeffrey Lerner, bass clarinetist Chester Rowell, cellist David Tomatz, and pianist Werner Rose. River of Crystal Light (1999) is a solo vehicle for the fine clarinetist David Campbell with the Texas Festival Orchestra.
—Kilpatrick, American Record Guide, November/December 2007
of Angelfire for orchestra:
Mr. Lieuwen’s Angelfire capped the evening effectively with an attractive array of shimmering, shuddering sonorities, making the most of minimal means.
—James R. Oestreich, New York Times
—St. Louis Post Dispatch
The biggest and most arresting piece was Peter Lieuwen’s Angelfire, inspired by Native American legend. Sometimes recalling Britten’s sea music, at other times John Adams’ motor energy, it’s arresting in every single measure.
—New York Daily News
of Star for soprano, cello, piano and percussion:
Star, for soprano (Susan Owen), cello, piano and percussion is slight, dependent on dainty sound effects, and attractive.
—Andrew Porter, The New Yorker
Peter Lieuwen’s 1986 prizewinner Star composed for Susan Owen, is quick to take advantage of the soprano’s versatility. It is a very showy piece with brilliant fortes juxtaposed to breathy whisperings.
—Santa Barbara News Press
Peter Lieuwen has created an atmospheric world of sound; a forward-looking work in harmony with our musical age.
—Der Bund (Bern, Switzerland)
Most stunning, in the literal sense at least, was Lieuwen's Star for soprano, cello, percussion, and piano. Luminous high blends of vibes, piano and voice cast about ringing constellations in a spacious atmosphere.
—Santa Cruz Sentinel
Anne Harris, a coloratura soprano who sang a small role in UNM’s Carmen last month, made a spectacular showpiece out of Star, a chamber work by Peter Lieuwen. Lieuwen, composer-in-residence at Texas A&M, set a text by Dallas poet Joanne Whitebird in a disjunct, angular and eruptive manner reminiscent of the avant garde style of 20 years ago. Lieuwen’s piece had euphonious logic under its spiky surface however – this is how some of those old scream-and-boom pieces should have sounded perhaps.
of Celestial Voices for brass quintet:
Peter Lieuwen’s Celestial Voices, commissioned by the NMBQ in celebration of the Lieksa Brass Week Solar Eclipse Concert, is the most abstract and least evocative of the works presented. The low brass are featured in the elegant, lyrical horn lines of the opening section, beautifully played by Dan Meier, and bold, disjunct cadenzas for both trombone and tuba. The multi-tongued conclusion drives to the end, again impressive for its energy and clarity.
Lieuwen’s Celestial Voices is dramatic, intricate, and incisive – the least overtly programmatic and most conventional of the new works.
—American Record Guide
The program concludes with Peter Lieuwen’s Celestial Voices, compositionally the most abstruse in structure, it is nevertheless an effective program ender in that it displays to the fullest the ensemble’s collective virtuosity.
An excellent choice on this program...finishes the disc in a fine way.
of Anachronisms for clarinet, bass clarinet, cello and piano:
A pretty piece, marked by glittering high piano writing, sudden flourishes and wandering melodic lines for the low instruments.
Broad in instrumental palette and highly successful in its handling of balances.
of Nocturne for cello, piano and percussion:
The other work of this (extraordinary) quality is Peter Lieuwen’s Nocturne. Night is depicted as the home of nightmares as well as repose. The cello line moves through assorted mysterious accompaniments by the piano and pitched percussion until, taking the lead, the piano moves the listener into a place where danger lurks. As the work moves through its symmetrical course, the middle section portrays the terrors of night before subsiding back into the more usual emotional states one associates with the title. That all of this is accomplished within the confines of largely tonal writing with very little in the way of special effects is especially impressive.
of Arnica Montana for orchestra:
The instrumentally colorful melody opening the work signaled a sense for imaginative orchestration, which Lieuwen exploited well in the genially amiable work.
of Sonatina for piano:
The concert began with Peter Lieuwen’s Sonatina. The first section had immediate surface appeal with flights of notes in the right hand. In the second and third sections, Lieuwen seemed to be experimenting with the organic growth of sounds. A lot of pedal was required in this section, and out of the loud, sustained chords grew notes that seemed to emerge and blend on their own accord. The patient pianist (Marc-Andre Hamelin) held the chords and sat, listening as carefully as those of us in the audience.
—The Philadelphia Inquirer