Yinam Leef, Triptych (Homage to Oedeon Partos)

September 5, 2017

Yinam Leef (1953)

Triptych (Homage to Oedeon Partos) for clarinet, violin, viola, cello and piano (1997)

Yinam LeefThe recipient of numerous prestigious awards, Yinam Leef is an Israeli composer, born in Jerusalem, educated in Israel and the United States and currently the chairman of the Department of Composition, Conducting and Theory at the Jerusalem Rubin Academy and Dance. His composition teachers have included Mark Kopytman, Richard Wernick, George Rochberg, George Crumb and Luciano Berio. Leef's substantial output includes concerti, symphonies, choral works and a variety of chamber music including two string quartets. In his book, Twenty Israeli Composers (1997), Robert Fleisher summarizes that Leef's works are "characterized by his threefold commitment: to universal, Western-oriented post-serial composition; to local or locally echoing musical traditions of Jewish and Middle Eastern modality and timbre; and to the young Israeli ("Canaanite") search for musical identity." Leef composed his Triptych in 1997 in homage to legendary Hungarian-Israeli composer and violist Oedeon Partos who was principal violist of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, a director of the Rubin Academy in Tel Aviv and now regarded as one of Israel's most important founding composers.

In a uniquely affective arrangement of movements, the Triptych moves from bristling motoric energy, to a slower expressive lament, to a nearly static meditation of sound suspended in air. The first movement, Energico, pursues a kind of follow-the-leader game with the leadership alternating from a polarity between the clarinet in the treble and the left hand of the piano rumbling in the bass. A linear and highly contrapuntal texture grows across staggered imitations of ever elongated, evolving musical lines with clarinet trills and silence punctuating the narrative phrases. The second movement is marked Dark, very expressive. After a bold introductory exclamation, the music features a lament for lonely viola with passionate outbursts ever recalling the bold contrast from introduction. The particularly lyrical and expressive viola part would seem to be the central homage to Oedeon Partos the violist. After its lead role in the first moment, for the most part, the clarinet recedes and blends into the composite ensemble providing a crucial coloring to the ambiance. The movement ends with a final, wistful solo for viola. With a mere breath following the fading solo viola, attacca, the finale suddenly enchants with an evocative spray of notes ascending in the piano's treble range. The musical direction, Molto lento, transparente (very slow, and transparent) promises a conclusion that is sparse, meditative, with nearly static atmospheric clouds of harmony slowly drifting by. Soft breath and sustained, bowed strings are occasionally gilded with bright, pointillistic glitter from the piano.

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