I was commissioned by the young and wonderful Pianist Benjy Hochman. It was conceived as a short (app. 6') self contained movement that could also be intergrated later as part of a longer piece yet to be written.
It develops out of a very small melodic and rhythmic cell that undergoes multiple phases changing its mood, texture, contour, rhythm and tempo.
From a nervous beginning, restless and inquiet, it becomes more and more energetic until its motoric impetus stops and the whole atmosphere changes and transforms to become static, colorful and melodic.
This mood lasts for a while but not for too long, when once again it changes to become charged with energy, reminiscent of the opening character.
The piece has a zipping quality, changing ideas quite fast, expressing in a way the uncertain and unstable situation so typical of our hyper tensioned life in Israel, our native land.
This song cycle was written in 1998 for Voice, Violin, Oboe or Clarinet, and Piano. It is based on three poems by the late Israeli Poet Ya’ir Hurwitz. I used only three of the 18 short poems, all relating to death. This was his last book and he wrote these songs on his death bed.
The entrapped bird is a metaphor of his soul being imprisoned in his sick body, waiting, in a sense, to be freed. I’ve tried to portray this dark and very painful atmosphere in my music using a chromatic and expressive musical language.
Stanley Sperber 2015
My Cantata-Song of Comfort (1998)- was commissioned by the Zimriya vocal Festival to celebrate Israel's 50 years of Independence. The gala concert was held on the festival's opening night in Jerusalem.
The piece is based on some comfort prophecies taken from the Bible and delivered mainly by Isaiah but also by Micha and Zechariah. I've arranged the text in a certain sequence serving best my musical aims and form demands. The piece has two movements: The first one is a bit more lyrical and introverted, emphasizing the comfort and compassion feelings, promising the upcoming salvation and redemption after the horrible sufferings. The second movement is more cheerful and full of joy as the nation is coming back to its old fathers land, the "end of days" prophecy is being fulfilled and piece prevails not only in the region but worldwide! In order to express the festive event I've chosen Double mixed choirs expressing the public ego, two soloists- a female and a male-expressing the individual ego. In order to strengthen and amplify the sonority, I've added a full Brass section (3, 4, 3, 1) which lands ceremonial splendor and glory to the overall sound. This instrumentation led me to some Renaissance influences both in the musical language itself (using Modality more than in any other pieces of mine) and in the texture, by using antiphonal and responsorial techniques.
The inspiration for my piece “Mizmor Shir” came from two different though complementary sources: First of all from the sound of my beloved first granddaughter name- Shir which means a song in Hebrew. The second source of inspiration comes from the holy book of Psalms, as many chapters of this book start with this expression –Mizmor Shir which literally means a Hymn song. In many of these chapters the harp is mentioned as one of the main instruments taking place in the performances of these ceremonial songs so I felt only natural to call my harp solo piece Mizmor Shir.
The main rhythmic pattern of the piece comes from the way one expresses the name of the piece in Hebrew, and the character of the piece is basically lyrical and singing like even though there are some active and virtuoso sections too.
The Quintet for Percussion & String Quartet is a chamber version of the Concertino for percussion & orchestra commissioned by the Israel Chamber Orchestra for the percussion artist Chen Zimbalista. Despite its origins, it has the distinct nature of a chamber work: the stirngs are equal partners throughout, the only exception being a semi-composed semi-improvised solo cadence for the percussionist.
Of the percussive instruments, the marimba is most prevalent, but various other instruments – with or without definite pitch – such as the vibraphone, cymbals and tam-tams, are also used. The Quintet, to be played as a continuous sequence, is of three sections, whose time ratios are arranged telescopically. The first is the longest and most complicated of the three, and ends with a cadence leading to the shorter expressive and lyrical second section, in which the strings come to the fore. Robust rhythmic qualities and a lively, bouncy tempo in the perpetuum mobile vain, characterize the third, even shorter, section which concludes the piece.