Maya Beiser Maya Beiser x Philip Glass Review
Maya Beiser is a cellist, arranger, and producer who is bringing together a group of avant-garde cellists to create a multi-layered sound sculpture to discover innovative dimensions in some of Philip Glass’s most potent and achingly beautiful works. Her new album is Maya Beiser x Philip Glass, which was recorded at Hudson Hall in 2021. The album has multi-cello arrangements of Glass’ piano Etudes Nos. 2 and 5, Mad Rush, Music in Similar Motion, and selections from Naqoyqatsi, part of Glass’s Qatsi Trilogy with filmmaker Godfrey Reggio.
Beiser explains the album, “In making this album, I searched for layers of sound that might reveal something new about Glass’s ingenious creative power. I was thinking about stratum, the layering that occurs in most sedimentary rocks formed at the Earth’s surface. I imagined the layers of my cello becoming porous and Glass’s music flowing vociferously through each layer, like lava, endlessly creating new patterns, expanding into the landscape. For me, recording a solo album is an introverted, solipsistic process. I go inward and build the sound from within, building my cello’s layers one at a time. In the live performance, I wanted to create a shared communal experience, to expand that powerful communion that enfolds between myself and the audience. I reached out to some of the most brilliant artists/cellists I know, wanting to create another communion between the five cellists performing. It’s a different kind of magic. It’s a dialogue that allows for multiple journeys to happen at once.”
“Etude No. 5 (Arr. M. Beiser for Cello) opens the album and is our first testing out of the new skin on Glass’ compositions. Beiser reveals a quiet fervent joy that brings you into a space of animation as the archo sonorities unfold with sleek gestures. This arrangement puts the cellos at their best, with sustained pads as the melodies ride upon them in layers of lyricism that are so consuming that it instantly shifts your attention. Her desire to make energizing music for the cello choir is undoubtedly one of success. The result is the sleek arrangement that methodically is inching upwards, awash in opulent cello tones and layers that stretch out the myriad melodic possibilities.
“Music in Similar Motion (Arr. M. Beiser for cello) is a moment to dispense the calm with a melody of intensity. Beiser channels her energy into making the theme an energetic anthem and even euphoric. The layers of cellos build to wild happiness as the lead cello sings the melody. This is a mid-album highlight that augments the moments of tranquil bliss. With the flowing counterpoint and moments of call-and-response, this track is buoyant and fun.
Maya Beiser x Philip Glass toggles between calm and roaring, as Beiser’s dynamic cello playing leads the way through Glass’ dynamic compositions. The music hits the pleasure center like a refreshing breeze on a hot summer’s day. The cello playing is grand, and the arrangements are full of little pockets of exuberance, some cheery, some heavy, but all howling with style. Beiser is always one to step outside the box and make it seem as natural as breathing.
Maya Beiser x Philip Glass
July 23, 2021