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Concertino for Cello or Viola

"Like the Clay in the Potter's Hand" | "כי הנה כחומר ביד היוצר"

Composing Year:



Solo Cello (or Viola) and String Orchestra



Original version for solo cello:

Ronald Leonard, cello | The Colburn Orchestra | Conductor: Yehuda Gilad (2005)


The Concertino for Cello and String Orchestra – “Like the Clay in the Potter’s Hand” is a shorter version of my Concerto for Cello and Orchestra. The subtitle is drawn from the wonderful poetic verse, part of the prayer for the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).

The piece is played in one continuous flow with no interruptions, but is subdivided internally into five sections, musically examining the special reciprocal relations between the creator (the cello) and its material (the orchestra). In the course of the piece the listener is exposed to the ever-changing relations between the two, from the struggle to give the formless idea a clear and distinct shape, through the complete identification of the creator with his material, until the moment the material becomes fully independent and free in its own right. Now it is the time of departing and separating, what remains is an echo – a reflection of the material in its creator’s mind, then the material gradually disappears. It evaporates leaving the creator drained… until his next composition.

In spite of all this description, the piece should not be seen as programmatic music, but rather as pure absolute music. I just wanted to share with the listeners the poetic trigger that was at the bottom of the spiritual process that led me to write my music. The piece grows out of a kernel idea: a kind of a sound which derives from an ascending row of tones at intervals which grow from minor second to minor sixth. The work is written in expressive chromatic language, but a tonal center can be discerned (the tone C) which recurs throughout the entire work and serves as its anchor.

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