Jerusalem

Jerusalem

  • Duration: ca. 17 minutes
  • SO: Picc, 2 Fls, 2 Obs, 2 Cls, B.Cl, 2 Bsns, C.Bsn, 4 Hns, 3 Tpts, 3 Tbns, Tba, Timp, Perc, Hp, Cel, Str.
  • SWB: Picc, 2 Fls, Ob, Bsn, 3 Cls, B.Cl, 2 A.Sxs, T.Sx, B.Sx, 4 Hns, 5 Tpts, 4 Tbns, Bar, 2 Tbas, Harp, Str.B, Synth, Timp, Perc

The inspiration behind this work is a city at the centre of three religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam, City whose name means “peace”, and whose fate is war, City which has known pain and joy, destruction and renewal, sadness and hope, City whose past is submerged in blood. As for its future… Would anybody dare to say that he knows it?

The poem Jerusalem exists in three versions: for solo piano, for symphonic wind band, and for symphony orchestra.

I wrote the piano version  in 1991, and revised it in 2002 and in 2009.
Below is a recording of the 2002 version, performed by Michael Zelevinsky in Jerusalem.
The final piano version premiered in 2014 in Paris, at the first COMPETITION-FESTIVAL – modern piano repertoire, performed by Olivier Seuzaret.

Jerusalem for Piano was published in 2015 by Le CHANT du MONDE, Editions Musicales (in France).

In 2017, this work was performed several times by Albanian pianist Almira Emiri. Below is a recording from YouTube.

In 2012, I wrote the symphonic wind band version.
It was premiered in 2013 by the Petach-Tikva Conservatoire Wind Orchestra, conducted by Michael Delman.
Below is an audio recording of that performance. Although both the orchestra and the recording are not professional, the performance was very enthusiastic and presents a favorable rendition the work.

I wrote the initial version for symphony orchestra in 1993, shortly after I wrote the piano version. However, I was not satisfied with the result; I’ve added a lot of additional content to orchestral version, and the combination resulted in a musical structure that lacked cohesion.

After I wrote Holocaust Requiem in 1994-1995, my attitude towards orchestration changed. As result,I put aside Jerusalem until autumn 2017, when I prepared a new version.

Below are recordings of the piano solo version and of the symphonic wind band version.

Piano Solo version

Almira Emiri, Piano
2017

Symphonic Wind Band version
Nigun (1996)

Nigun (1996)

For String Orchestra / String Quartet / Solo Viola / Solo Violin / Solo Violoncello
  • Duration: ca. 5 minutes

The first version of Nigun was written in 1996, for string orchestra.
In this piece, I give expression to the tragic spirit that I feel in traditional Jewish music. However, there are no themes  from traditional melodies in the piece. Rather, , the composition expresses the style and spiritual atmosphere of the ancient tunes.

The piece was premiered in Israel in 1997 by the Jerusalem Camerata, conducted by Horia Andreescu. Later it was performed by various orchestras in Israel and around the world.

In 1997, I prepared the version for solo violin. Unfortunately, this version has not yet been performed.

In 2008, I prepared the version for solo viola for the American violist Scott Slapin; he recorded it a few months later.

In 2010, I prepared the string quartet version for the Requiem CD (Atoll Records). This version is very similar to the 1996 version. However, I eliminated the contrabass part, and the opening unison of violas, violins and cellos I replaced with a violin solo. The piece was recorded by the Dominion String Quartet.

In 2017, I prepared the solo cello version for Israeli cellist Inbal Megiddo, who premiered it that autumn.

Below you can find recordings of various versions of Nigun.

Version for String Orchestra
Version for SOLO Viola

Scott Slapin, Viola
Premiere
2008

Samples from the "Requiem CD"

     Dominion String Quartet
         Donald Maurice, Viola
         Yuri Gezentsvey, Violin
         Rosemary Harris, Violin
         David Chickering, Cello
     2010

Prayer (1994-1995)

Prayer (1994-1995)

  • Duration: ca. 6 minutes

I composed Prayer for Viola and Piano in 1994, after completing the third part of the Holocaust Requiem for Viola and Symphony Orchestra, Lacrimosa. I then collected materials for the fourth part of Requiem, Lux Aeterna. Therefore, Prayer is stylistically very similar to Requiem, and especially to Lux Aeterna. I even used one of the themes from Requiem: “Shema Yisrael”.

The “Shema Yisrael” theme opens and concludes Lux Aeterna. Hence, the best way to understand my expression of Prayer is by first listening to the Requiem recording, or at least to Lux Aeterna.

In 1995 I prepared the version of Prayer for Violin and Piano. In 2004, this version premiered in Carnegie Hall, in New York, performed by Carmit Zori (violin) and Gilbert Kalish (piano).

In 2010, the version Prayer for Viola and Piano was included in the “Requiem” CD launched by Atoll, performed by Donald Maurice (viola) and Richard Mapp (piano).

Both versions were published by the Israeli Music Center.

Below are recordings of two more great performances of both versions: by Gilad Karni (viola) and Anna Keiserman (piano), and by Litsa Tunnah (violin) and Petr Limonov (piano).

Version for Viola and Piano

Gilad Karni, Viola
Anna Keiserman, Piano
2016

Version for Violin and Piano
Massada (1997)

Massada (1997)

  • Duration: ca. 14 minutes
  • Picc, Fl, Ob, Bsn, P.Cl, 3 Cls, B.Cl, A.Sx, T.Sx, B.Sx, 4 Hns, 2 Cnts, 3 Tpts, 3 Tbns, Bar, 2 Tbas, Str. Bass, Timp, Perc (4).

In 1996 I met Michael Delman, the conductor of the Wind Orchestra of the Petah-Tikva Conservatoire (Israel).
Before meeting him for the first time, I had never written anything for wind orchestra, and I have viewed wind orchestration as limited to bands performing marches or any entertainment music, like songs, waltzes, polka, fantasy, and potpourri.
Mr. Delman opened a new world to me: the wind orchestra, with abilities and repertoire similar to the symphony orchestra. This type of orchestra is called a  symphonic wind band or a wind symphony orchestra.

For more than 20 years,  Michael Delman and I have collaborated. He and his orchestra premiered most of my compositions written for symphonic wind band. Mr. Delman himself conceived the theme of some of my wind band compositions, including Massada, Wind Of Yemen, Exile, and The Heroic Song.

Massada was the first piece that I composed for symphonic wind band. It was composed, and also performed for the first time, in 1997.

Massada (or Masada) is a fortress near the Dead Sea, whose defenders resisted the Romans for seven years and then committed suicide rather than being captured and enslaved by the Romans.

In 1999, Michael Delman and the Petah-Tikva Conservatoire Wind Orchestra performed the European premiere of Massada in the wind-orchestra competition in Zurich, Switzerland, where they won first prize in their category.
They also performed Massada in Festival Mid-Europe ’99 in Schladming, Austria.

Since then, Massada has been performed by various orchestras in Europe, the United States, and in South America, and several orchestras have recorded it.

The most important performances took place at:

Below are some recordings.

Petah-Tikva Conservatoire Wind Orchestra
Michael Delman, Conductor
1999

Symphony No.1 "Memorial" (1984; revised in 1987)

Symphony No.1 "Memorial" (1984; revised in 1987)

  • Duration: ca. 28 minutes
  • 3 Fls (Picc), 2 Obs (E.Hn), 3 Cls (B.Cl), 2 Bsns, 4 Hns, 3 Tpts, 3 Tbns, Tuba, Timp, Perc (4), Cel, Hp, Str.

The Memorial symphony is dedicated to the victims of World War II, a theme that touched me personally.

I was very excited for the composition’s premiere to be performed by the  USSR Symphony Cinema Orchestra, in 1988, in Moscow. For a young composer, this was an amazing opportunity. Plus, this was the first time that I heard the symphony performed live, and it was also recorded — by the best orchestra I could have wished for at that time.

Below, is the live recording of the premiere. The recording is old, and there are some background noises, so please accept my apology for that.

Holocaust Requiem for Viola and Symphony Orchestra (1994-1995)

Holocaust Requiem for Viola and Symphony Orchestra (1994-1995)

  • Duration: ca. 46 minutes
  • 3 Fls (Picc), 2 Obs, 3 Cls (B.Cl) 2 Bsns, C.Bn, 4 Hns, 3 Tpts, 3 Tbns, Tba, Timp,  Perc (4), Cel, Pno, Hp, Vla solo, Str.

For years, I felt the necessity to write a work dedicated to the Holocaust. After my immigration to Israel I started to consider different ideas for such a work. At first, I wanted to write a requiem for the standard orchestration: soloists, choir, orchestra and, maybe, narrator. At that time, Yuri Gandelsman, the principal violist of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, asked me to write something for him. He was an excellent violist whom I had known for years – we learned at the same time at Gnessin College and then at Gnessin Institute (Academy of Music). So, when he asked me to write for him a work for viola and symphony orchestra, I suddenly understood – I would write a requiem for viola and symphony orchestra! I would write the work without the text, without the choir and solo singers, but I would try to save the tragic atmosphere of a traditional requiem.

I dedicated Requiem to my father, whose family was murdered in Babi Yar by Nazis in September of 1941. It took me about two years to write it, during which I felt that he was waiting for me to complete it. The day after I finished writing Requiem, my father passed away.

In the end, Yuri Gandelsman did not perform Requiem.
In October 1995, less than a year after it’s composition, Requiem received the ACUM (Israeli ASCAP) award.

The world premiere of Requiem took place in October 2001, at the memorial evening dedicated to Babi Yar tragedy, in Kiev, by remarkable violist Rainer Moog and the Symphony Orchestra of National Philarmonic Society of Ukraine, conducted by Roman Kofman.

Requiem was performed again seven years later at the Concert of Remembrance for the 70th Anniversary of Kristallnacht, at an outstanding performance by Donald Maurice and the Vector Wellington Orchestra in New Zealand, conducted by Marc Taddei. Later, a live recording was released by Atoll with three  more of my pieces.

After listening for the Kiev recording of Requiem, violist Anna Serova and conductor Nicola Guerini pushed Naxos to  record Requiem. The Naxos compilation includes another piece that I wrote for Anna: Poem of Dawn for Viola and Symphony Orchestra.

Both the Atoll CD (in 2011) and the Naxos CD (in 2015) received Pizzicato’s Supersonic Award, and the Naxos CD was also nominated for the 2016 ICMA award.

I am honored to have such wonderful performers for the piece!

Below is a live recording of the outstanding premiere performed in Kiev and few samples from a performance in Wellington. Additional recordings and information about Requiem performances can be found in my website by using the SEARCH widget from the main menu or the sidebar (type requiem).

Pigovat's Holocaust Requiem may prove to be one of the three finest masterpieces ever written for viola, with the Bartók and Walton Viola concertos. It now primarily needs time and exposure and to become known in contemporary 21st century literature.
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Dwight Pounds
Review to Naxos CD
December 17, 2017