The Human Condition

Contemporary Israeli Music

Hagai Yodan piano, harpsichord

Alex Shapira composer
Daniel Akiva composer
Tsippi Fleischer composer
Rachel Galinne composer
Igal Myrtenbaum composer
Dina Smorgonskaya composer

Release Date: February 10, 2023
Catalog #: NV6501
Format: Digital
20th Century
21st Century
Solo Instrumental

Nothing has ever gripped intellectuals as firmly as reflections about the conditio humana, with all the perceptions, joys and miseries it entails. Israeli pianist and prolific recording artist Hagai Yodan sounds the depths of existence on his new release, THE HUMAN CONDITION, and with great panache.

Featuring both piano and the harpsichord, Yodan skillfully navigates through the seas of Being as described by no fewer than six international composers. There is a persistent sense of melancholy, but also of truculence and a certain rage de vivre – an indomitable will to live. In this, THE HUMAN CONDITION isn’t merely another contemplation; it’s a self-assured declaration.


Hear the full album on YouTube

Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Sonata No. 1 “In Search of Lost Meaning”: I. Abandoned Dreams Alex Shapira Hagai Yodan, piano, harpsichord 7:49
02 Sonata No. 1 “In Search of Lost Meaning”: II. Introspection Alex Shapira Hagai Yodan, piano, harpsichord 3:12
03 Sonata No. 1 “In Search of Lost Meaning”: III. Self Doubts Alex Shapira Hagai Yodan, piano, harpsichord 4:46
04 Sonata No. 1 “In Search of Lost Meaning”: IV. Never Look Back Alex Shapira Hagai Yodan, piano, harpsichord 3:31
05 Supplications Daniel Akiva Hagai Yodan, piano, harpsichord 5:39
06 In Chromatic Mood Tsippi Fleischer Hagai Yodan, piano, harpsichord 5:19
07 Three Dances Dina Smorgonskaya Hagai Yodan, piano, harpsichord 6:10
08 Piano Sonata: I. Stormy Rachel Galinne Hagai Yodan, piano, harpsichord 5:51
09 Piano Sonata: II. Grave Rachel Galinne Hagai Yodan, piano, harpsichord 5:26
10 Piano Sonata: III. Moderato Rachel Galinne Hagai Yodan, piano, harpsichord 5:46
11 Comping the Empty Wheel Igal Myrtenbaum Hagai Yodan, piano, harpsichord 15:52

Recorded 2018-2022 at The Israeli Conservatory of Music in Tel Aviv, Israel
Sound Engineers Yaron Aldema, David Hadad
Mastering David Hadad
Piano Technicians Zohar Harpaz, Shamai Gilad
Harpsichord Technicians Alex Rosenblatt, Yizhar Karshon

Executive Producer Bob Lord

A&R Director Brandon MacNeil

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Audio Director Lucas Paquette

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Patrick Niland, Aidan Curran

Artist Information

Hagai Yodan

Harpsichordist, Pianist

Hagai Yodan (b. 1985) is an Israeli pianist, vocalist, harpsichordist, and composer. His repertoire spans from early music to contemporary pieces, and he has collaborated with nearly 300 different composers.

Alex Shapira


Alex Shapira (b. 1958) studied composition in Romania, Israel, and the United States, and received a comprehensive scientific education. After pursuing a successful high-tech career, Shapira is now refocusing on composition and joined NACUSA/Texas in 2021. He is developing his authentic musical language at the intersection of East and West, balancing artistic intuition and scientific rigor. The Piano Sonata In Search of Lost Meaning was recorded by Hagai Yodan in 2022, and his Mallet Quartet Nostalgia was performed the same year by the Heartland Marimba Ensemble in St. Paul MN as part of their World Premieres Tour. Shapira lives in Dallas TX with his wife, likes to hike, jog, and meditate, and enjoys modern art.

Daniel Akiva


Daniel Akiva (b. 1953) is a composer, performer, and educator, whose guitar and lute performances have earned him international acclaim. A native of Haifa, Israel, whose family has lived in Israel for over 500 years, he was steeped in Sephardi tradition from youth, and many of his compositions evolved from the music of Sephardi Jews. He has performed as a guitarist and lutenist in Israel, the United States, Russia, Spain, France, Switzerland, Germany, Portugal, Mexico, and most of the countries in Central and South America.

His repertoire features works from Renaissance to contemporary music. Akiva’s compositions include pieces for solo instruments: guitar, piano, mandolin, cello, violin, flute, oboe, clarinet, harpsichord, viola da gamba, and recorders; additionally: voice, chamber ensembles, choir, voice and guitar, voice and piano, choir and orchestra, a concerto for guitar and orchestra, and music for three guitars and orchestra.

In 1984, he accompanied soprano Victoria de los Ángeles in a series of concerts held at the prestigious Israel Festival. His work Psalms for guitar and his string quartet Ciclos were awarded the ACUM prize for composition. He received the Amazon prize for his album Hope (with Laurel Zucker, flute; and Ronit Widmann-Levy, soprano), and was awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Israeli composers.

Akiva is a B.A. graduate from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, and earned an M.Mus and Maestro Diploma in guitar and composition, completing his studies under lutenist Jonathan Rubin at the Geneva Conservatory in Switzerland. He established the Music Department at the WIZO Haifa High School for the Arts, which he founded in 1986 and headed until 2017. Akiva was the Artistic Director of the Guitar Gems Festival & Competition, held in Netanya, Israel, from 2006-2018.

Tsippi Fleischer


Tsippi Fleischer (b. 1946) is one of Israel’s major composers. Her oeuvre encompasses four decades of creative activity in all major genres, reflecting the varied trends in contemporary musical and theatrical artistic dynamics in Israel and throughout the world. Her works appear in albums produced by international labels and by the Israel Music Institute.

She received several awards, including: Composer in Residence at the Brahmshaus in Baden Baden, Villa Montalvo, the Jerusalem Music Centre, Keele University, and at the Safed Artists’ Quarter; the Globes Award for the foremost career woman in Israel in the field of music, the Mark Lavry Prize from the Haifa Municipality, the Prime Minister’s Prize for Israeli composers, ACUM’s Music Prize, Lifetime Achievement Award and Honorary Fellowship, and more.

Fleischer was born in Haifa, Israel, and the city’s Arab-Jewish environment left an indelible mark on her compositions. She began her formal studies in piano and music theory at the Rubin Conservatory in Haifa and graduated from the Middle-Eastern Studies stream at Haifa’s Hebrew Reali School. She later pursued academic studies in music, Middle-Eastern Studies, and linguistics. Fleischer’s style has diversified greatly during her creative life: the early beginnings in the 1970s are typified by a search for a compositional style in which to incorporate her Middle-Eastern Studies. The 1980s brought the formation and crystallization of that style, marked by a finely-honed tonality and images of Israeli landscape. By the late 1980s, her work reached new heights with musical settings of literary Arabic texts, most prominently in her cantata Like Two Branches. In the 1990s, her vision deepened and expanded historically and geographically, incorporating elements from the Semitic world and beyond, including references to ancient cultures. The early decades of the 21st century are marked by the composer’s entry into the large-scale genres of symphony and opera, including her grand opera Adapa.

Fleischer is also notable for her active contribution to the ideology of music education in Israel. She continues her intensive activity, reaching new heights and summarizing her life’s work in the study of Hebrew song.

Dina Smorgonskaya


Dina Smorgonskaya (b. 1947) is one of Israel’s most prominent composers. Immigrating to Israel in 1989 from the former U.S.S.R., she brought with her the mastery of a broad spectrum of styles and genres, as well as her own musical personality, both featuring the rich artistic tradition of St. Petersburg, whose school she proudly represents.

Major works from her Russian period include a concerto for viola and chamber orchestra and the ballet suite Peter Pan and Wendy for woodwind and strings, as well as song cycles on poems by Russian poets, film music, and incidental music. During almost three decades, since her arrival in Israel, she has written several major works including: the chamber opera The Stationmaster (after Pushkin); Concerto for Piano and Strings; Triptych for Clarinet, Violin, and Piano; Pentastich – Five Poems in Five Languages for Soprano and Piano; and Spanish Lace, suite for strings based on Ladino songs. Finding an enthusiastic audience in her new-ancient homeland, Israel, Smorgonskaya was awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Israeli composers. Still highly valued in Russia, her music is performed there, as well as in the United States, Canada, and other countries. Her compositions are distinguished by a classical clarity of musical ideas, refined associative metaphors, and a strict perfection of form. Not restrained to any of the ‘modern’ techniques, she offers artistic designs in whatever musical expression they require.

Rachel Galinne


Rachel Galinne (b. 1949) was born in Stockholm, Sweden, where she studied piano with Gottfried Boon, a disciple of Artur Schnabel. She studied musicology, film, science, and education before completing her B.A. in Semitic languages, specializing in Hebrew at Uppsala University.

After her immigration to Israel in 1975, she completed her B.A. and M.A. degrees in composition with Leon Schidlowsky at the Rubin Academy of Music in Tel Aviv, and participated in a composition course in France with Witold Lutoslawski and Henri Dutilleux, as well as the Darmstadt Seminar of Contemporary Music. She received the ACUM award for her choral work Uneginotai Nenagen and the Israeli Prime Minister’s Prize for Israeli composers.

Galinne’s works include orchestral, vocal, and chamber works, and pieces for solo instruments; she often draws inspiration from Jewish texts and themes. While earlier works such as Islossning – Breaking the Bonds of Ice for two pianos and percussion represent an avant-garde style, later compositions such as Depths of Light and Darkness for percussion and string orchestra emphasize the transition between atonality and tonality.

Galinne received international recognition when Islossning represented Israel at the Rostrum Competition in Paris and Cycles for orchestra received a special commendation in the Vienna Modern Masters competition. Her music has been performed in Israel, Europe, and the United States by leading orchestras and ensembles, such as: The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, The Swedish Radio Choir, and The Israel Contemporary Players; under the baton of conductors such as Gary Bertini and Nicholas Carthy; and, since 1999, has been released on several albums. Other performances include Depths of Light and Darkness by the Orchester Jakobsplatz, and premieres for Will They Live? for soprano, tenor, and chamber ensemble, the Piano Sonata, and Reconciliation for soprano and chamber ensemble. Galinne’s archive was inaugurated at the National Library of Israel in 2011.

Igal Myrtenbaum


Dr. Igal Myrtenbaum is a composer, sound artist, and lecturer. His work and passion ranges from synchronizing sounds to studying how people synchronize, as well as systems with emergent properties. He composes both electronic music and works for acoustic ensembles, and, in recent years, focused on improvisation and vocal expression. Committed to exploring music through building cultural bridges, he gives workshops and leads other projects in different parts of the world: India, South America, and Israel — mostly based on a combination of performance, analysis, and the use of digital tools. Myrtenbaum is the recipient of the Landau Prize for Electronic Music and the Prime Minister’s Prize for Israeli composers.


The first version of the Sonata was composed in 1977, when Shapira was still in Romania. At that time, it was a cry against the limitations that Communist regimes inflict on people’s dreams and free spirit, and struggling with having to give up music. More than 40 years later, now living in Texas, he found the manuscript and transformed it, adding the perspective of time, reflecting on adolescent dreams, what remains meaningful, and what changes over a lifetime.

— Alex Shapira

Each of the five movements of the piece is an intimate prayer, reflecting different emotions and sensations: contemplation, search, meditation, agitation, and acceptance. Each Supplication is a miniature in a wide overall invocation. Writing for harpsichord enables me, as a composer, performer, and researcher of early music, to express the special connection I have to the instrument and to the era in which it blossomed; and show it in a contemporary light as a versatile and rich musical instrument.

– Daniel Akiva

As its name suggests, the piece is rich in chromatic progressions. While in past centuries chromatic changes were associated with emotional climaxes, in this piece, the chromatic passages reflect different aspects, such as: pointillism, Jazz, and polyphony. Though flowing with myriad moods, the piece is full of specific performance directions. The various chromatic characters can be distinguished by a number of forms related to each other. At first, the octave progressions stand out, the dynamics are relatively quiet
and there is a sense of undefined meter. Towards the end of the section, an arpeggio of clusters ‘erupts’ in the upper register of the piano. The second section, which is relatively lighter, is written as a short and fast Jazz nuance, the third is expressive, and the finale is an elegant waltz.

– Tsippi Fleischer

The piece is one of a series of works for harpsichord. The composer finds, through the harpsichord, the connection between what was and what is. Each movement presents a different state of mind, and the special tone of the instrument, both dramatic and intimate, enables the different moods to be sharply and effectively defined. The first movement begins with a free ‘rubato’ melodic line, which develops into a rhythmic mechanical theme and ends with the return of the opening motif. The second is written with a Baroque aroma, and the third is a wild Allegro barbaro, fading away as it reaches the end of the piece.

– Hagai Yodan

In her piano sonata, the composer explores the deep connection between herself and the piano, which began at an early age, when she began improvising at the keyboard as well as playing from classical scores. In her improvisations, she attempted to mimic the styles of great composers, but later refrained from using a regular meter and continuous melodic lines — characteristics she would discover as compositional techniques later on. While the first movement of the piece — which begins with a series of clusters — presents a contemporary style, the second movement is a ‘Marche funèbre,’ inspired by slow movements from Beethoven and Schubert. The third movement, which is influenced by the final movement of Beethoven’s Waldstein Sonata, brings the two elements together. Though different in character, similar motifs and variations on the funeral march unite the different parts of the piece, which become a coherent storyline. The Sonata, employing the piano both as a melodic and a percussive instrument, reflects the piano repertoire of the 19th through the 21st century and expresses the way in which this literature has influenced Galinne’s style.

– Rachel Galinne

The term ‘comping’ is mostly used in Jazz music to describe the act of accompanying a solo. But what does ‘comping’ really mean? Is it a framework for a main course? Or is it a metaphor for essentially any musical creation which implies that the main course is that unreachable void in the center? Both the solo as well as the rest are ‘merely’ comping something — emptiness shaped by sounds we call music. The work was inspired by a variety of accompanying practices, journeying from background to foreground — but keeping in mind that we can only draw the outer circle, the wheel, and wish for the void to emerge.

– Igal Myrtenbaum