Three Songs Without Words
for violoncello (or bassoon) and piano
Ben-Haim conceived his Three Songs Without Words as Vocalises for high voice and piano but later occurred to him that the songs lent themselves as well to instrumental performances; the various for solo instrument and piano are the composer's own arrangements of the Vocalises. The composer explains the three parts of this little Suite as "tone-picture of a oriental mood" and he adds that "whoever's imagination needs additional prompting may think that the long-breathed melodies of the Arioso were inspired by the mood of a summer day's pitiless heat in the bare Judean Hills, while the Ballad pictures the monotonous babbling of an oriental story-teller; the last song is based on a traditional folk tune of Sephardic-Jewish origin – a veritable pearl which I have only given a setting". Regarding the instrumental performances, the composer has said that "an instrumentalist playing the Three Songs should renounce all tendencies of virtuoso brilliance in favour of a purely melodic expression". The Three Songs Without Words (which were written in 1952) take about 9 minutes in performance.