When Ido Govrin inquired about yours truly’s interest in reviewing a work entirely spoken in Hebrew (translated from older Yiddish), the immediate reply was affirmative, for my attitude towards idioms that can’t be decoded on the spot is that of considering them as just another component in the complexity of a specified sonic tissue. Galut – originally born as a 24-minute radio drama – also became an 8-channel installation that was presented in March 2011 at Jerusalem’s Barbur Gallery. It consists of a three-voice recitation (by Govrin himself, Zohar Eitan and Daniel Birnbaum) of various snippets of earlier texts by Moshe Gurin, complemented by sparse instrumental strokes: basically, diverse shades of piano – prepared, slightly processed or percussive – played by Shira Legmann, and the mourning qualities of Dan Weinstein’s cello, the latter particularly evident during a memorable finale, in union with a heartrending faraway chant by an unidentified male singer surrounded by a downpour.
After having listened over the years to the accent of poet Ronny Someck – his CDs with Elliott Sharp are great – and never forgetting Towering Inferno’s Kaddish and, of course, Steve Reich’s Tehillim, this writer’s acoustic acquaintance with the Hebrew vocal expression is at an acceptable level. Nevertheless, the (admittedly distant) parallelism that came to mind while listening was with Jaroslav Krček’s Raab, the comparison helped by the deadpan delivery of the text amidst the purely musical events. Those comprise, besides the instruments, wonderfully placed natural sounds: for once, the sound of water, nocturnal crickets, barking dogs and tiny birds make complete sense in this transfixing soundscape, rich in solitude and desolate quietness. This is a superb electroacoustic statement whose importance remains high even without scanning the lyrics through the lens of a detailed translation. One can envision hours upon hours of patient assembling, the sensible choice of certain details instead of others, the firm will of achieving a goal by the composers. It all amounts to soul-enriching music of considerable cultural value, for which Govrin and Belford must be respected.