Through the Window of Marc Chagall
Yitzhak Yedid : piano solo
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Composition by Yitzhak Yedid. ACUM
Produced by Yitzhak Yedid and Volker Dueck
Recorded in Jerusalem, Israel, April 2008
Sound and mastering by Jan Erik Kongshaug,
‘Rainbow Studio’, Oslo, Norway
Liner notes translated by Barry Davis
Artist Photos: Itamar Haarony
With thanks to Rochelle Gild, Uriel Kon
“I see the fire, the smoke and the gas; rising to the blue cloud, turning it black. I see the torn-out hair, the pulled-out teeth. They overwhelm me with my rabid palette. I stand in the desert before heaps of boots, clothing, ash and dung, and mumble my Kaddish. And as I stand—from my paintings, the painted David descends to me, harp in hand. He wants to help me weep and recite chapters of Psalms.” Marc Chagall’s notes on his own painting Song of David
How deep, direct and pained are the words of the artist who, more than anyone else, through his work conveyed the images of holiness, beauty and love fused with evil, the bleakness of tragedy and the challenging images of that most terrible period.
The music for this album was inspired by many of the works of Marc Chagall, but from the point of view of someone living in the here and now. This is music that conveys images of beauty, prayer and Jewish tradition fused with sadness and strife. I have written the names of the works that particularly inspired me, in the titles. Even so I would to point out that the music does not necessarily portray what we will perceive in them. Their influence is primarily felt in proffering the concept.
I would also put it thus: I wrote music based on paintings which Chagall would have created had he lived in contemporary times. That’s the reason for the title:
Through the Window of Marc Chagall
The sanctity of “Bride of Jerusalem” and the love of “When there is light in your window” fuse with “Old man’s whispered prayer” and “Clowns at night”, but not before the traditional “Shalom Aleichem” appears. The bride reflects the optimistic side that looks to all the good of the world, with holiness seasoned with a modicum of sadness.
“When there is light in your window” is a well known Israeli love song. The music was written by Sasha Argov, one Israel’s greatest songwriters, and the lyrics by Amos Ettinger succinctly convey the ambiance:
“When there is light in your window, you will suddenly appear to me from the darkness.
When there is light in your window I hear, tell me why the light is suddenly extinguished.”
The third track on the CD, “Clowns at night”, is painted in dark hues and is influenced by Chagall’s work “Les saltimbanques dans la nuit” which he described as “a tragic language” and wrote: “…and, with old age, the tragedy of life within us and around us.”
The fourth track, “Shalom Aleichem”, is a liturgical song, or piyyut. Piyyut is the name commonly given to a sacred song in Hebrew. “Shalom Aleichem” is sung as part of the kabbalat Shabbat ceremony, welcoming the Sabbath on the Friday evening after prayers at the synagogue and before the kiddush blessing over a cup of wine, and prior to the Sabbath meal.
“Shalom Aleichem” is a song that moves me with its intensity every time I hear it. For me it symbolizes more than anything else the faith and the survival of the Jewish tradition, through all the tragedies.
“Shelter me under your wings” is a traditional Israeli love song, composed to powerful lyrics written by iconic Israeli poet Haim Nachman Bialik. Like with “When there is light in your window” here too I opted for an arrangement that utilizes the original composition, but is influenced by the lyrics. I play the main part of the song inside the piano, in a manner that replicates the oud from Arabic music.
The sixth track, “Old man’s whispered prayer”, comes from a previous work of mine called Reflections upon Six Images. This time I offer a variation on the piece, which is designed to bridge and bond between my composed works and improvised works.
The last track is a combination of two pieces, and comprises a marriage of two works. One is inspired by A Midsummer’s Night Dream, which Chagall wrote under the influence of Shakespeare. The other is a section taken from the opening of “Bride of Jerusalem” which is inspired by two other Chagall works: La Mariée and The Wedding Candles.
I have always been drawn to sanctity and Jewish topics and mysticism. In my other works they feature in expansive contexts, either as a dilemma – such as “Non-believer’s Prayer” from Myth of the Cave – or as a prayer in “Benediction of the Priests” from Oud Bass Piano Trio.
In this album I connect with their beauty, and less with the questions they raise.