The reports from Brazil of acre after acre of Amazon Rainforest burning to the ground, perhaps intentionally, have lent a different kind of urgency to the arguments surrounding the state of our environment. It is estimated that higher than 20 per cent of the planet’s oxygen comes from this part of the Amazon. Those of us unaware of that fact have either learned it in recent days or at least have a vague sense of the region’s outsized ecological importance. If we ever do get our act together on sustainability, historians will surely identify this unnatural disaster as a turning point.
Israeli cellist Maya Beiser could not have foreseen that her latest recording – inspired by “arctic icebergs and the dark rhythms created by the sound of their near-continuous melting … the sounds of a vanishing natural world” according to its notes – would coincide with such a hellish news story. The fact that it has adds even greater weight to an already powerful work of art.
Entitled delugEON, Beiser has “recomposed” Vivaldi, Beethoven and Messiaen. She has added recordings of her heartbeat, her breath, of melting icebergs, the winds of Mars and much more. And of course, there is her cello. Beiser’s performance is an exquisite cry for help. She has poured every ounce of her considerable talent into these nine pieces. The result will shake you.
It took just seven days to produce the album. Beiser positioned microphones at various distances around her, in order to fully capture the resonance of her instrument. This has the effect of replicating a genuine chamber experience. There is no hint of studio artificiality here. And she wants you to know that there’s been no digital trickery employed to smoothen rough edges.
This is not Beiser’s first success. Her backstory is one filled with superstar collaborations and fawning media. Discovered and mentored by the great violinist Isaac Stern, she has been a featured performer at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Royal Albert Hall, the Sydney Opera House and the Beijing Festival. She has worked with Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Brian Eno and a long list of others. Beiser’s 2011 TED Talk has been translated into 32 languages.