A Tale of Grief: Silkroad Ensemble Delivers a Heartbreaking Performance of Golijov’s ‘Falling Out of Time’

By Miranda Wilson | From the March-April 2021 issue of Strings magazine

Falling Out of Time, Osvaldo Golijov’s long-awaited return to composition after more than a decade’s recording silence, is a song cycle on poetic texts by the Israeli writer David Grossman. This new disc, created in collaboration with the Silkroad Ensemble, tells the unbearably sad tale of a father’s grief with a mixture of avant-garde vocals, electroacoustic music, classical and rock instruments, and non-Western instruments such as the Chinese sheng, a woodwind instrument, and pipa, a bowed stringed instrument. 


Singer Wu Tong, as the bereaved father, and Biella Da Costa, as the wife who refuses to join him, bend their voices into a virtuoso range of extended techniques—helped along by electronic manipulations of the sound. Walking obsessively in circles, the anguished father asks the central questions of the narrative, “Where are you? What are you? And how are you there?” to the ghostly, dreamlike accompaniment of strings and Chinese instruments. The effect is extraordinary and harrowing.

At around an hour and a quarter’s running time, this disc is not an easy listen. The painful subject matter and the nonstop intensity of Golijov’s music leave the listener awed and overwhelmed. In the hands of the renowned Silkroad Ensemble, already one of the world’s top new-music groups, Golijov’s return has the perfect interpreters.