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...lo va-ah...


Avraham ben Yitzhak (1883-1950) has been called the first modern Hebrew poet.  He left Vienna for Israel on Hitler’s annexation of Austria in March 1938.  Among his papers when he died was found a poetic fragment in Hebrew which could be paraphrased as:


            Whose was the dawn the cock proclaimed,

            his screeching trumpet-calls echoing in the darkness?

            Hands were raised feebly to shield eyes from the brilliance

            but no sun rose;  for both mouth and hands had lied.


The three movements of Unrise reflect upon these lines:  1: ‘trumpetings’, wild chants and chorales, leading into 2: ‘echoings’, transformations of the first material into what could be a crazy march and a dance of terror,  and 3:  the ‘not-rising’ - further transformations into a mechanical dawn-chorus.  The word the poet uses for ‘cock’ also means a strutting male.  Most of the musical material is derived from a melody and two symmetrical scales taught me in 1938-9 by a young Viennese refugee who made her home with us in London.  

This sixteen-minute work is intended as a belated sixtieth-birthday present for conductor Timothy Reynish - born March 1938 - in gratitude for over a quarter of a century of support, encouragement and fine performances.  It was first performed at the Spitalfields Festival, London, by the RNCM Wind Orchestra directed by Timothy Reynish in 2001.

Recorded on NMC D105.


16 minutes

Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra cond. Timothy Reynish, Spitalfields Festival, London, 22nd June 2001

1 Flute (=piccolo), 1 Oboe, 1 Oboe (=Cor anglais), 1 A Clarinet(=B-flat Clarinet), 1 Bass Clarinet(=A Clarinet), 1 Horn in F, 1 Trumpet in C (=flugelhorn), 1 Trumpet in C(=bass trumpet), 1 Tenor Trombone
Composition date