The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind

I've got loads of better things to do, but I got really excited about this piece of music today and I was compelled to blog about it.

Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov (b. 1960) wrote this piece, The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind, in 1994. In the words of the composer:

"Eight centuries ago Isaac The Blind, the great kabbalist rabbi of Provence, dictated a manuscript in which he asserted that all things and events in the universe are product of combinations of the Hebrew alphabet's letters: 'Their root is in a name, for the letters are like branches, which appear in the manner of flickering flames, mobile, and nevertheless linked to the coal'. His conviction still resonates today: don't we have scientists who believe that the clue to our life and fate is hidden in other codes?"

Notes from the composer continue here.

The piece is scored for string quartet and 'klezmer clarinet', and uses traditional Jewish melodies, including those taken from prayer. The clarinet truly sings in this work, as it passes through intense dance-like figures, ambient soundscapes, and long, searching melodies.

I think it is amazing, so I'm sharing it here. I couldn't find a decent version on YouTube, so the Spotify playlist below contains two versions; one by the St. Laurence String Quartet, and one by the Kronos Quartet.

Listen and enjoy.

Mr G




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