Itamar Zorman, violin

BBC National Orchestra of Wales

Release date: April 5, 2019

Ben-Haim: Evocation, Op. 32

Ben-Haim: 3 Songs Without Words

Ben-Haim: Violin Concerto

Ben-Haim: 3 Studies

Ben-Haim: Berceuse sfaradite

Ben-Haim: 5 Pieces: No. 5, Tocatta 


Listening to Ben-Haim's music one hears a fascinating mix of cultural influences: The structures and textures are clearly German, with ample counterpoint throughout. The harmonic language is very colorful, French with hint of Spanish. Much like Mahler, Ben-Haim composes what he hears from the outside world, the music of the his time and place, which then integrates with his personal thought and feelings to become the music on the page. Historically, he serves a similar role in Israel as that of Bartòk and Kodaly in Hungary, creating a new national syle, which later became known as the Medittarenean Syle in Israeli Music - writing music that is rooted in the folk music of the region and of Jewish tunes from the entire diasora. The difference from Bartòk, however, is that Ben-Haim needed to create a new syle with folk music which he did not grow up with: Born and raised in Germany, he encountered Arabic music and Yemenite Jewish prayers only after he moved to the Palesine in 1934. His gradual aborpion of this new musical language is fascinating to oberve.

Personally, I find Ben-Haim's music very moving, and looking to trace why, I have two hypotheses: The easier one is the shared cultural heritage I have with him, and use of folk music which I'm connected to. The more complex one, yet more significant, is that Ben-Haim's music moves me in a similar way to how Ravel's music moves me - he jus finds the right note. Like Ravel, Ben-Haim mosly refrains from overt outouring of emotion, but somehow, by choosing exactly the right note, the right chords at the right moment and right turn of phrase, the result becomes very meaningful.

My falling in love with the music of Paul Ben-Haim came in my late teens. I was working on his Prelude for Sring Quartet, and I discovered how rich his music can be. I srongly believe that his music should be beter known, and in making this CD, I hope that wider audiences would connect to it emotionally, the same way I did.