In July 2020, the Argentine-born, Warsaw-based violinist and composer Max Bober attended Wandelweiser's annual week-long festival Klangraum, in Dusseldorf, as he had been doing since 2018 when he first met Wandelweiser's Managing Director Antoine Beuger and had a mentoring week with him. At the 2020 Klangraum, Bober led daily realisations of his piece "We Have Time" which combined music and selected readings from Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale
; the piece was enjoyed and well received by those who participated in it and by audiences.
The closing Sunday of the festival focussed on music composed by Bober and others. Beuger played two Bober piano miniatures, "Duos Moleskine 3 & 4." Bober and Dutch guitarist René Holtcamp played duets for guitar and violin. Altogether, the festival felt like Bober's coming of age as a composer, a feeling that was reinforced later that year by the release of his debut album on Edition Wandelweiser, and by a very different album released in 2021...
Max Bober Somos
Although the four tracks on Somos
together play for under half-an-hour, that fact highlights one of the main strengths of Bober's compositions; they are concentrated and economical, without unnecessary padding or clutter. The music here comprises four pieces composed and recorded in Warsaw between 2018 and 2019. "Duo Moleskine 3" and "Duo Moleskine 4" are the same pieces that Beuger performed at Klangraum, but here the lone pianist is Alejandro Peña Gutiérrez. Both pieces are spacious, allowing each note time to resound, be appreciated and die away.
On the other pieces, "Somos -Trio 1" and "Somos Trio 2," Gutiérrez is joined by a different pairing of a female soprano vocalist and a flautist on each one. Their combination of piano, voice and flute works well. Again, both pieces get the dynamics and timing just right so that each component can be clearly heard and appreciated. However, they are not so separated that they sound like three soloists; instead, the notes are close enough together that the interaction between them and the progression can be heard.
The success of Somos
is due to the compositions and the performances of them. It is common to describe new, young composers as 'promising,' but in the case of Bober, it is clear that he has already fulfilled his promise and has a bright future. Perhaps the greatest compliment that can be paid to Somos
is that it sounds completely at home on Edition Wandelweiser...
Sebastien Beliah / Max Bober There is a Light in Me
Issued digitally some four months after Somos
, There is a Light in Me
features Bober playing violin with double bassist Sébastien Beliah, the two having experience playing as a duo in Warsaw. This presents a very different facet of Bober's music, as seen in the YouTube clip below. In addition to compositions such as those above, as was suggested by his Margaret Atwood piece, "We Have Time," in recent years Bober has been exploring the blurry area between music or sonic art and literature, including poetry; this may go some way to explaining the track titles on the duo recording, which are taken from a poem by the Polish poet Anna Świrszczyńska (aka Anna Swir) (1909-1984).
Recorded in a large empty space in Warsaw in February 2021, the sound on the album has an appealing natural reverb. With a total running time approaching forty minutes, the album comprises five tracks, two credited to Bober, three to Beliah. In addition to the structure that these compositions provide, the driving force of the music is the restrained interaction between the two players and their well-judged responses to one another. The pair sound so comfortable and natural together, and their music so logical and natural that listeners may not immediately pigeonhole it as improvised music. As with all Bober's music, be it composed, improvised, performative or otherwise, it indicates that he will be worth watching out for in the coming years and decades.
Tracks and PersonnelSomos
Tracks: Duo Moleskine 4; SomosTrio 2; Duo Moleskine 3; SomosTrio 1.
Personnel: Alejandro Peña Gutiérrez: piano; Alejandrina Vázquez: soprano (2); Francisco Rojas: flute (2); Natalia Jarosiewicz: soprano (4); Clara Peláez Hidalgo: flute (4). There Is A Light In Me
Tracks: Whether in daytime or in night time; I always carry inside a light; In the middle of noise and turmoil; I carry silence; Always I carry light and silence.
Personnel: Maximiliano Bober: violin; Sébastien Beliah: double bass.