Tsippi Fleischer


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Fleischer is known for combining Israeli/Jewish musical influences with others of the same region, as well as her musical depiction of the maternal-feminine subconscious, and the practice of deriving musical textures from her treatment of language and natural acoustics. While these elements are present in each piece on this album, the disc features a new approach to text-setting, which Fleischer describes in her program notes: "not a continuing text set to music, but rather a para- or meta-text of my own devising a collection of words and syllables plucked out of powerful sources of inspiration."

A Letter from Naguib Mahfouz for vocal quintet is a haunting work in which Fleischer weaves the words of Egyptian author and Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz into solemn, polyphonic layerings of Arabic, English, German, French, and Hebrew. Fleischer sets the texts in a declamatory style, and the motet-like texture flows so naturally that the listener is drawn to the voices and the intertwined melodies rather than to what might seem a harsh clash of the different languages.

The Animals' Wish, which the composer describes as a "light-hearted, mischievous suite", [] is intended for an audience of children who may also be participants in an educational setting. [] Some of the disjunct melodies and dissonances may occasionally sound less playful and more ominous to ears mostly accustomed to Western music, but one can see how a theatrical rendition of the music by children could change a great deal about the interpretation.

Symphony No. 6 The Eyes, Mirror of the Soul [.] is in two movements without a break, and each movement is subdivided into miniatures. [] As a whole, the first movement, "Old", is characterized by slow, wailing melodies, extreme registral shifts, dissonances, and thin but sustained textures. In the second movement, "Young," the movements are lighter, faster, and a little more playful. [.] The composer's experimentation with text and text delivery is clearly evident throughout the piece [] The piece is inspired by a photography exhibit of Dorit Harel and by the photographer's credo: "The Eye, Mirror of the Heart and Window of the Soul. Our Whole Inner World is Reflected in the Look of One Pair of Eyes." The listener is encouraged to observe Harel's photographs in the liner notes while listening to the movements. It is obvious that the pieces have clearly been constructed with a great amount of attention to detail. From the conception and construction of the pieces, the incorporation of extra-musical ideas from the original source material, even down to the arrangement of the players on stage, everything has been crafted with conscious, creative effort.

The final work on the album is Avram An Oratorio Portraying the Birth of Monotheism [.] In this piece, the composer depicts the creation of three monotheistic religions: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Although the music is made up of languid and occasional droning sonorities between the choir, soloists, and instrumentalists, the texture is frequently very sparse. The use of unison in both the vocals and bowed strings creates a sense of simplicity as well as a prayer-like quality, and the harps, which alternate between plucked single pitches and arpeggios, convey a mystical atmosphere. The composer states that "the sense of prayer within a sanctified atmosphere is intensified by the increasing use of doubled unisono textures". [.] The work culminates in a beautifully woven movement of peace and exhilaration. This is one of the few times in the album that all voices are singing in harmony, rather than polyphony, and it is both affective and eerily beautiful.

This album is a finely crafted piece of work by Tsippi Fleischer. Her attention to detail and depiction of extra-musical ideas is superb. I particularly enjoyed her use of text-setting throughout the movements. The program notes were helpful in fully experiencing her choices in an occasionally challenging and thought-provoking musical language, but the pieces may be enjoyed on their own as well.

Eva Kendrick
IAWM Journal, November 2013

The most substantial work here is the oratorio Avram, in which Fleischer's multi-culturalism adds up to a musical work which displays a definite stylistic signature. The work successfully communicates ancient times the eras before and during the rise of monotheism through slowness, the frequent use of unison textures, hints at an Arab sound-world and Mid-Eastern sonoric gestures through the effects created by an ensemble of women's choir, three harps and violins. This work is a natural continuation of Fleischer's life work, reflecting the experiences of a composer who grew up and lived her whole life in a mixed Israeli-Palestinian city (Haifa), assimilated the Semitic languages and even studied them, listened to the varied musical revelations of the Middle East, and expressed her cultural and social interest in all of these aspects and phenomena in her music. To a large extent, she succeeded in imbuing genuine content into the search for Israeliness in music.

The disc as a whole is also a credit to Fleischer's phenomenal productions skills, gathering dozens of performers singers, players, conductors from the four corners of the Earth to create a perfectly-realised final product. And, as noted earlier, there is more to come.

Noam Ben-Ze'ev, Ha'aretz, March 15, 2013



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A Letter from Naguib Mahfouz Play

The Animals Wish

Symphony No. 6 The Eyes, Mirror of the Soul

Avram An Oratorio Portraying the Birth of Monotheism