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MERKAVO'T (Chariots), 1999, for symphonic orchestra

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Commissioned by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra
Publisher: Ricordi, 1999 | Duration: 19'31 min.

Listen to The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Zubin Mehta


The title Merkavo't is drawn from the Hebrew root ”Racho'v” from which various words implying motion or combined acts are derived. The word ”Merkava” is found also in Kabalistic literature (Ma'ase Merkava') as a metaphor of the complex and sacred act of creation.

The work is written in two thematically interrelated movements, where the second is an abstract reflection of the first. The first movement, entitled Tenuo't (motions), deals with contrasting and complementary relationships between the full orchestra and a chamber group of instruments, such as a string quartet or quintet, within the orchestra itself.

Homogeneous and clear sonic figures appear and disappear at various points in the acoustic space and are connected by fragments of melodies (played by the solo instruments or the chamber groups) that enter and then disappear stealthily within the space, weaving an element of continuous motion into their heavy textures.​

The second movement, entitled Kave'i-O'r (Light-lines), is based on the piece Kave'i-Avi'r (”As the Crow Flies”) composed by Olivero in 1995 for an instrumental ensemble and uses a sketch of notes, and chords, written by composer Luciano Berio, as a musical cell, an omen. This material also opens Kave'i O'r in the new orchestral version.


These chords, as they are interwoven melodically and harmonically within the body of the work, are salient in their structural character and unique harmonic color. Their presence is like that of the mysterious guest whose appearance and disappearance remains an enigma that begs to be solved.


Merkavo't was commissioned by The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra through the generosity of Mrs. Ruth Usem and is dedicated in the memory of Mrs. Spiegel. It was premiered by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra in Jerusalem during the Israel Festival in 1999.

Breaking Tradition / Noan Ben-Zeev, Haaretz >>

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