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"Like the Clay in the Potter's Hand"

"כי הנה כחומר ביד היוצר"

Composing Year:



Cello or Viola and Piano



Original version for Cello and Piano:

Michal Beck - cello, Menachem Wiesenberg - piano (2007)


The title is drawn from the wonderful poetic verse, which is part of the prayer for the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur): ”Like the clay in the hand of the potter: Who thickens or thins it at his will, So are we in Thy hand, gracious God, Forgive our sin, Thy covenant fulfil." The special reciprocal relations which develop between the potter and the clay (the creator and the material) give a kind of conceptual frame to my work, in which the soloist assumes the role of the "potter" and the piano is the "clay". In the course of the short piece, the listener witnesses the progression of relations between the creator and his spiritual creation, from the first moment of it's coming into being; through the struggle to give the formless matter the desired clear and distinct shape. From the state of contention, the relations change into one of complete identification of the creator with his material, and this symbiosis frees the constraints of the material. It finds independence within the space and becomes its own master. What remains is an echo – the material gradually disappears; it evaporates leaving the creator drained… until his next composition. In spite of all these, the piece shouldn't be seen as programmatic music, as having a plot or describing anything, but rather represents pure and abstract music, which can stand on its own merits and listen to without all my private poetic connotations. The work is written in expressive and chromatic language, but a tonal center can be discerned (the tone C). It is based on the sound which derives from an ascending row of tones at intervals which grow from a small second to a small six. The work was originally written for cello and piano, later adapted to viola and piano, and from which I developed what would become my cello concerto and cello concertino, both bear the same title. The work was commissioned by the “Council for Culture and Art".


Version for Viola and Piano:

Tabea Zimmermann - viola, Menachem Wiesenberg - piano (1997)


Violist David Wallace in a short introduction on "Like the Clay in the Potter's Hand":


Menachem Wiesenberg on "Like the Clay in the Potter's Hand":

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