With Severade composer Maxim Shalygin takes a sneak peek into the future. In addition to the classic cellos played by the members of Cello Octet Amsterdam and cellist Maya Fridman, he wrote this piece for a next-generation robot cello. Designed by Rob van den Broek, this electrically powered instrument produces mysterious-sounding low notes which can be sustained over a very long time. We spoke with Maxim about working with this new form of technology, Maya Fridman’s role in Severade and the influence of the covid-19 pandemic on his work.
In the piece Severade a futuristic robot cello is used. What is it like for you as a composer to work with this kind of technology?
I often like to use textures where two or more musical layers are in a different tempo. In many cases, it means that there are very hard parts for musicians who perform layers with fast notes. With the new instruments made by Rob van den Broek, I had amazing possibilities to use instruments controlled by motors for this function. It gave me the possibility to make the time difference in layers even more extreme which hopefully will give the listener a non-gravitational feeling at a certain point.
What is Maya Fridman’s role in Severade and what is it like to work with her?
Maya’s part represents the eyes through which we perceive this journey. It’s not a concerto-like part, I would even say it is the opposite. It’s a long journey inside yourself, your hidden emotions and thoughts. It’s the road toward losing the fear we all have inside us. Maya understands my music on a deeper level and always gives it her all, right until the end of the performance. It’s always fascinating to experience that.
In this edition of Dag in de Branding we present a fresh perspective on old and familiar aspects of music. How important is this in your work?
I don’t distinguish the musical history like old and new music. It’s one ocean to me. So this combination is the most natural approach to art in my opinion.
You could also see the past year as a new ‘experience’. Has this changed anything in your work as a composer?
The composer is always in quarantine. So the only sad change is that all the concerts were cancelled. But in general, I was using this time to compose even more, making films, recordings, and drawings.