Osvaldo Golijov
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Yiddishbbuk (1992): Reviews
   [Notes] · [Reviews]
...An effective storyteller, Golijov has the gift of great composers: He keeps a listener connected at every moment, even when the music is utterly abstract. He can introduce a singing folk melody with common chords or thicken the sound, but he knows when he's approaching sensory overload. The middle movement sounded like a tango unfolding in ultra slow motion, a haunting dance of death. In the finale, moments of abrasive reality, suitable for a work about genocide, are followed by visceral feelings of resolution or at least a sense that the confrontation was essential. The St. Lawrence Quartet has recorded "Yiddishbbuk" (on EMI) and made it their own, at turns harrowing, provocative and brilliant, always full of humanity.

—Pierre Ruhe, The Altalnta Journal

...The piece is even more effective live than on disc. Golijov's music has a deep and complex connection to gesture and the body. Dancing and breathing are its life processes. This is all the more striking in Yiddishbbuk, which is music for the dead. At one moment you hear the ghosts of merriment; at the next, a whistling sound, as the wind passing over a field of bones, or a droning like the prayers of those who are already forgetting the meaning of the words. It's all a jumble of living and dying, and of sad things that can be beautiful or defiant in the passing of a moment.

—Robert Everett-Green, The Globe and Mail

The peculiar mix of violence, desolation, and ecstasy in Golijov's quartet is not terribly far from Janacek, however dissimilar the musical language. The St. Lawrence was right on top of the music, giving a performance of great intensity without for a moment letting technical control slip. There were places where the quartet's technical security and coloristic imagination combined to breathtaking effect. The opening of the second movement, all in harmonics, was uncannily beautiful.

—Michelle Dulak, San Francisco Chronicle

...his 'Yiddishbbuk' of 1992 is an extended lamentation for the sorrows of Jewish history. Dense, angular, full of tight dissonances and frantic circular motifs, relentlessly hammering at our senses, this music pierces the heart. The Cuarteto Latinoamericano conveyed its language of pain in a performance of searing intensity

—Joanne Hoover, Albequerque Journal

...a heart-wrenching three-movement work commemorating first three children who perished at Terezin, then I.B.Singer and finally Leonard Bernstein's Mahler. It's a brilliant threnody of loss, expressed through furious anger, then delicate Jewish folk melody in high harmonics, and concluded with nervous inconclusive tonalities that achieve resolution in a sweeping unison coda.

—John Stege, Santa Fe Reporter