Works

Akeda

The word "Akeda" in Hebrew has a very special meaning. It is not simply "a sacrifice” but it relates specifically to the famous scene in the bible where Abraham takes Isaac in order to sacrifice him to God. At the last minute Isaac is replaced by a sheep.

The Lord tried Abraham and Abraham stood with inhuman courage the severest of all tests.

Isaac’s "sacrifice" symbolizes and expresses very clearly one of the most significant ideas in Judaism. As against the very idea of the Greek tragedy its structure and consequences, Jewish thinking does not accept easily tragedy. Tragic events, in all its complexities, are only a kind of a “purgatorio” towards a redemption. It is not only the story of Abraham but also the story of Job which yields a so called “happy end” with its annexed canon of morals.

This composition is written in memory of Israel late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin whose brutal assassination puts a question mark as to the statement presented above Contrary to the bible, our Yitzhak was sacrificed tragically. Some may argue, however, that he risked his life on the altar of the peace process.

I conceived the musical work in memory of Rabin as a Passacaglia. I thought that a form of a Passacaglia has the advantage of going hand in hand with the biblical story with its escalation pivoting itself towards the aim of the sacrifice. The variations signifies the way from simple things into a complex situation while drawing an image of Rabin - an Israeli born “Sabra”, a product of acquired culture and inherited culture. The complex situation of being a Jew and an Israeli at the same time, being articulate and naive at the same time. Being worried and self assured at the same time. All this coined itself into a work where simplicity of form and directness in approach are the key words.

As the Passacaglia moves forward, I felt looming on the horizon the very opening bars of Gesualdo’s Madrigal “Moro, Lasso( printed in Genova). I felt that this most eloquent cry of anguish fitted my mood perfectly. The first four harmonies of the madrigal are interwoven as a kind of “ritornello” bringing the work to its peaceful end.

The work was commissioned by The Teatro Carlo Felice, Genova where it was premiered in September 1997 under Maestro Gary Bertini to whom the work is dedicated.

Noam sheriff