Maxim Shalygin

composer | conductor | visual artist

Title: Delirium
Instrumentation: 4 grand pianos
Year: 2023
Duration: --
First performer: Tomoko Mukaiyama, Antonii Baryshevskyi, Laura Sandee & Gerard Bouwhuis
Premiere: 16th April 2021, Minimal Music Festival, Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, Amsterdam, NL

Commissioner: Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ & Tomoko Mukaiyama

Buy Score: --


Delirium is an IV chapter in Shalygin's macro-cycle for a lifetime 'S I M I L A R' launched by  in 2017. It is a cycle in which each new chapter is written for a certain number of identical instruments. This cycle takes a special place in the composer’s creativity. Each chapter is strictly limited in terms of instrumentation, but for the rest, composer have unlimited possibilities. Shalygin tries to completely follow the stream of musical material so that it takes him even further than allows imagination. The homogeneous composition of the instruments makes imagination work at its maximum, as it is necessary to create completely different sound images using the same instruments.
Each chapter is written for top-class musicians who can reproduce sometimes the most complex and sophisticated colors of the score. Each new chapter expands the boundaries of the possibilities and opens up new ways of communication with the musical material. The duration of each chapter is at least an hour. This allows the listener to gradually get used to and to better understand the language of the new sound world.

DELIRIUM | Composition & texture
Delirium is a one-part piece, about 70 minutes long. 

Delirium, also known as an acute confusional state, is one of the oldest forms of mental disorder known in medical history. The Roman author Aulus Cornelius Celsus used the term to describe a mental disorder caused by a head injury or fever. It is characterized by an influx of vivid ideas and continuously emerging fragments of memories. As a result, there is a false orientation in time and space.

Delirium by Maxim Shalygin - is a musical labyrinth with the refraction of space and time. It can be compared to a deep sleep, where one floats endlessly under water or suddenly take off like a bird, soaring with the wind and seeing the world as if in the palm of one's hand. Listeners are hypnotised and begin to see their inner world reflected in the sounds.

The beginning of Delirium reminds the sound of bells. From the first seconds, the listener is immersed in the space of the bell ringing, which signifies the beginning of the meditation. The bell sound becomes a bridge between the busy life left outside the hall doors and the present moment. A strong vibration encourages the listener to feel their presence and the significance of the event in which they are participating. The listeners actually bathe in the sonic vibrations that the instrument produces.

Tonal chords interspersed with several polytonal tones spread over the entire spectrum of the range of four pianos. Each new appearance of the chord structure is played with different dynamics, giving the impression of the simultaneous sounding of several bell systems at different distances. The bell patterns explode on the forte and each time slowly fade away leaving the listener alone with the echoes.

Gradually, the structure develops and melodic lines begin to shine through the bell texture, which gives rise to a melody that is still full of bell echoes, but more like glass bells. Imperceptibly, a light, fluttering passage appears in the texture, as if just a link between the individual sections of the melody. However, one should follow it, the passage will play a major role in the development of dramaturgy in the future.

Suddenly, after the next passage, the melody does not appear and the chord hangs in the void. The passage sounds again, and again there is no continuation. It slowly fades away and slows down each time, as if its strength is running out. This is another hypnotic bridge that prepares the listener for the arrival of something important. Something fragile and tender, which can be frightened away and which is worth listening to with bated breath...