Maxim Shalygin

composer | conductor | visual artist

Title: Angel
Instrumentation: violin & cello
Year: 2020
Duration: 6'
First performer: Merel Vercammen & Maya Fridman

Commissioner: with the financial support of Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds & Cultuurmakersfonds.

Buy Score: Donemus 

Program notes

The outbreak of Covid-19 changes the way we think about a wide range of subjects, including the way we treat nature. The aim of the current project is to create a new audiovisual work of art that helps people to think about the relationship between man and nature, about vulnerability, responsibility, past, present and future.

Whereas in the twentieth century wars were a great threat to mankind, in the twenty-first century that seems to be the way we deal with nature. Just over a hundred years ago, the First World War was a major source of the spread of Spanish flu. Against the expectations of many, this tragedy did not prevent a Second World War. Nowadays, the way we deal with nature and animals seems to be an important factor in the spread of Covid-19. In a globalised world in which animals are kept on a large scale by humans, and in which animals are transported all over the world, the next epidemic could start anywhere.   

What if the way we deal with nature becomes a question of "to be or not to be" for mankind? What if we no longer have the chance to make the wrong choices in order to have a future?

Covid-19 has caused much trauma, hardship and unrest to billions of people around the world. At the same time, it also provides an opportunity to reflect on our own lives, think about what is important, and discover new ways in which we can reduce our impact on the planet. There is an opportunity to limit future pandemics and minimize the impact of the climate crisis.

The piece also builds a bridge with the Sonata for violin and cello M.73 by Maurice Ravel, which he wrote a hundred years ago (between 1920 and 1922). Ravel wrote this composition after a turbulent period, and had to recover emotionally and physically from both the hardships of the First World War and his illness (dysentery). The new work forms a parallel in several respects with one hundred years ago, not only because both follow a crisis, but also in the use of melody. As in Ravel's Sonata, melody is used as the most important means of expression.