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"Black Night Organ"

"עוגב הליל השחור"

Composing Year:



Solo Mezzo-Soprano, Solo Baritone, Mixed Choir and Piano



Poems by David Vogel, from "Before The Dark Gate" (1923) "לפני השער האפל"

Reut Ventorero - mezzo-soprano, Guy Pelc - baritone, Ilan Levin - Piano | The Bertini Choir | Conductor: Ronen Borshevsky (2024)


I was first introduced to the wonderful songs of David Vogel when I was a sixteen-year-old high school student. The school library librarian warmly recommended that I read especially the cycle "Before the Dark Gate" found in a book of Vogel's complete poems, edited by Dan Pagis. It was love at first reading. The power of the poems and their special beauty touched and deeply moved me. The writing was so concise, the stunning and surprising imagery, the rich colorfulness, the resonance of the language, and the free, flowing rhythm spoke to my heart immediately, even though it was poetry different from anything I had known until then. Despite the gloom and existential sadness that pervades many of the poems, there are also wonderful love songs, some for his close family members and some very erotic, but all crafted with great subtlety. Even then, I had a feeling, perhaps even a premonition, that one day I would write music for some of these poems. Nearly sixty years have passed, and I finally realized this youthful desire.

When Haggi Goren, the administrative director of the "Gary Bertini Choir," approached me about two years ago and asked to commission a new piece for the choir, I immediately agreed and knew that the texts for which I would write music would be from David Vogel's song cycle "Before the Dark Gate." The process of selecting the poems was fascinating to me. At first, I thought I would call the cycle "Songs of Love and Death," but gradually I felt that there was something too direct, exposed, and literal in this title. During the process of selecting the texts, I realized that I wanted to write music not only for the choir but also for a mezzo-soprano and baritone soloists, with the piano playing a significant role. I felt that to give proper expression to the contents of the poems, I needed the ensemble I chose. The cycle includes nature and seasonal songs, first-person love songs, nostalgic songs, and songs that express dark states of mind. The organization of the cycle was influenced both by the thematic elements of the subjects of the poems and their resonance throughout the cycle, by the prosodic elements and inflection of the language, as well as by pure musical contents of organizing form and structure and timbral combination.

The musical language in which I wrote the piece is based on post-tonal writing, using the twelve chromatic tones freely with changing central tones. This is very expressive music, close to Béla Bartók's conception of "twelve-tone music" and not to the serial music of Schoenberg and his students.

Warm thanks to my dear friend Dr. Lilach Lachman for her good, helpful, and wise advice.


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