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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Magda Mayas' Filamental - Confluence (Relative Pitch, 2021) ****

By Eyal Hareuveni

In 2019, German pianist Magda Mayas was appointed as one of the curators of the Music Unlimited Festival 33 in Wels, Austria (alongside Joe McPhee and Kazuhisa Uchihashi). She seized this opportunity to fulfill a long-time dream, putting together a large string ensemble, Filamental, referring to a filigree fiber, or a thread, a texture that is playfully explored, a psychologically embodied state and approach.

Confluence refers to the two rivers that meet and merge in Geneva - the Rhode and the Arve. These rivers have different temperatures and colors. They travel in different terrains, they carry different volumes of water and have different depths. The score for Confluence consists of 12 photos, observing the merging waters, the artificial wall dividing them, the earthy, blue and green colors blending. The score offers the possibility to focus on tiny details, transitional areas, or to stay in one area for a long time over the course of the performance. Confluence is a frame for exploring minute changes collectively, Confluence is also an entrance into a certain mindset, a state of being, with which to carry through the performance.

Magda Mayas’ Filament consists of like-minded, experimental improvisers - violinist Angharad Davies, cellists Anthea Caddy and Aimée Theriot, harpists Rhodri Davies and Zeena Parkins, clarinetist Michael Thieke and alto sax player Christine Abdelnour. Fortunately, I experienced Filament opening the Music Unlimited Festival and the recording of Confluence assured me again that this masterful performance was one of the highlights of the festival. Mayas created a dream-like sonic space where delicate and almost transparent threads and colors are interwoven, disintegrate and then are attached and resonate together again, patiently, organically and almost seamlessly. This kind of suggestive and collective dream state dynamics slowly gains more nuance, volume and power with a few brief intense and dissonant eruptions that cement its profound emotional power and exquisite aesthetics.

During the live performance, I was fixed to the inventive sonic palette of Davies and Parkins. But the recording allows the listener to focus on the idiosyncratic vocabularies of all the octet musicians, each one with his own personal language and his own extended techniques, and all unite into a mysterious sonic entity. Moreover, to experience again and again how all the musical threads and colors keep flowing and shifting and eventually accumulate into inspiring and intriguing texture.