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Bachtrack - Paris, February 2021.
Clara Maïda’s …, das spinnt… was written for the Arditti Quartet in 2013. It is a spidery, dense and elastic work whose "filaments never stop intertwining" in a hypnotic spiral of kinetic energy.
ResMusica [Michèle TOSI] - Paris (FR), January 20, 2020.
The boundless space of strings at the Quartets' Biennale 2020
Faithful and now mythical, Arditti Quartet is at the Amphithéâtre du Musée in a programme of premieres in which two names of women composers are included…. First Clara Maïda’s name, whose piece, …, das spinnt …, a French premiere, was co-commissioned by the French State and Arditti Quartet that premiered it in England in 2013 and never played it again since then. Maïda’s name should be added to the "saturationnist" trio usually mentioned (Robin, Bedrossian and Cendo) since she transgresses here the traditional playing of strings so as to work an essentially noisy matter, requiring an energy of gesture and a merging of four instrumental sources that are slightly amplified this evening. The composer evokes a network of threads that entangle and untie within an eruptive matter which draws its trajectories in space. If the movement is subtly articulated, the matter is constantly elaborated, flat or with asperities, bringing into play the percussive dimension of the strings. Without ever destabilizing our four performers in perfect synergy whose insolent virtuosity commands admiration.
Bachtrack [Clara LEONARDI] - Paris (FR), January 16, 2020.
Maïda, Mason, Jolas, Arditti Quartet's breath of fresh air over the Biennale
But …, das spinnt… by Clara Maïda first opens the ball. Included in the series www, evocative of the World Wide Web, the work plays on the images induced by the multiple meanings of the German verb "spinnen" (to weave a cobweb) and the word "web". The sound images result from a bruitist juxtaposition of inventive effects: the very high slidings evoke the swinging movement of a spider at the end of its thread, the violence of the play behind the bridge the madness of who has "une araignée au plafond" ("to be mad", in colloquial French)…
But more than a simple succession of plays, the Ardittis throw light on the solid construction of the work: after a first difficult segment which explores the most strident registers of the instruments, the members of the quartet gradually join together on a few chords, then a few more and more aggressive homorhythmic passages, up to an almost tragic climax where the slidings of the violins evoke fire alarms… In pizzicati with the plectrum, the final segment, which first suggests a pop-rhythmed dance, gradually loses breath, with ever longer silences that the musicians seem to interrupt with regret. Despite this less spectacular ending, the inventivity of the writing convinces the audience that welcomes enthusiastically the composer on stage.
La Philharmonie de Paris [Jérémie SZPIRGLAS] - Paris (FR), December 2, 2019.
The Biennale's premieres
Another game, another spinning top: Clara Maïda delivers on January 14 the exclusive of ..., das spinnt..., for amplified string quartet to the experts in premieres that Arditti Quartet is. A work that is part of her highly connected series www that states the whole polysemy of its original German title: at the same time the web that one weaves (with strings… of the quartet), the whirling of an object, the state of an elementary physical particle (the spin), and up to madness ("Du spinnst!"). This new quartet of the French composer will share the cast with works commissioned to young and eclectic British Christian Mason and to French-American Betsy Jolas.
The Sound Barrier [Ian PARSONS] - Melbourne (AS), July 14, 2018.
[...] big and surprising, was from France's Clara Maïda, [...] in three movements: Psyché-Cité/Transversales, for instrumental ensemble and electronics, composed from 2005-2007. It is a work that draws from connections between urban space and psychic space: how the connections and trajectories of urban areas, complex and mulfarious, can suggest, and sometimes even appear to stand in for, the labyrinth of the human unconscious. These connections and representations are mirrored in the interplay of acoustic and electronic sound throughout the piece, which reflects questions about which influences which: are our minds shaped by our physical environment, or does the physical environment reflect the structures of our minds? Do components built into the whole, or does the whole reduce down to its components? These are the concepts that this vibrant piece plays with, where little bits of sound are taken from one setting and planted into a new one, like, says Clara Maïda, the cross fertilisation of organic matter through the transfer of bits of DNA.
Reutlinger General-Anzeiger [Hans-Jörg LUND] - Stuttgart (DE), February 2, 2017.
Clara Maïda coined the title of her audiovisual installation, Lostery, for contrabass clarinet and electronics from the words "lost" and "Lottery". The concertante sections and the tutti which overlap and alternate, as well as the contrasted affects, could evoke a baroque Concerto Grosso. However, this has been realized here with two projections in black and white in the background that recall a collage of the contrabass clarinet's instrumental parts with which Later Gambler plays with great virtuosity. [...] The composer asks the question to know whether we were born on the right or the wrong side, which place we find in life and how far we can participate in taking a decision. One question that can in all cases be underlined by the work [...].
Res Musica [Michèle TOSI] - Paris (FR), January 28, 2017.
[...] Another world premiere, Web studies by Clara Maïda is a triptych (Web-wake, Web-wave, Web-wane) which is accompanied by American Jenny E. Sabin’s video. The stylized images - those of the cobweb - as well as the sounds develop the concept of network, interconnection and complexity, such as the suspended cables of Brooklyn Bridge that struck the imagination of the composer. The mass of threads corresponds to the tight weaving of the strings (prepared piano, harp, violin and viola) and a very noise-like, bristled, convulsive matter. It requires numerous ways of playing, spectacular on Marion Lenart’s harp or on Véronique Briel’s prepared piano - and the presence of accessories such as metal boxes scraped by the violin and viola players, which generates a saturated space. But nothing is monochrome in this very organic, confined world, full of energy, whose amplification reflects the sensation of tension and urgency. Written right after the November attacks, the work superbly defended by 2e2m ensemble, is dedicated "to all the victims of violence and human madness all over the world".
Fono Forum - Stuttgart (DE), January 19, 2017.
[...] Clara Maïda’s audiovisual installation Lostery. The title condenses the English words "lost" and "Lottery" and describes a pessimistic attitude towards the current economic and social crisis. In the electronic part of the sound installation, the composer uses sounds of machines recorded in game rooms and casinos. The instrumental part (Theo Nabicht, clarinet) mimics the morphology of these sounds of machines.
Boomkat - (UK), May 18, 2016.
Angular, difficult experimentations in new composition, symbolically framed around subconscious repression and the flux of fantasy and reality. […] it’s not easy listening, but there are some fantastic, clattering and delirious ideas contained within.
The Sound Barrier [Ian PARSONS] - Melbourne (AS), November 20, 2014.
The first of the two major works presented on the show was by French composer Clara Maïda. Her electroacoustic cycle Psyché-Cité/Transversales, delves into the interactions and relationships between the microcosmic and macrocosmic worlds - the ways in which people, cultures, and cities and languages are reflections of, and reflected in, the structures of minds, and the cells and DNA of organic life. It is an exciting work of intricate interplay between acoustic instruments and electronic music, where chains and connections bounce into an unfathomable multiplicity of directions.
RealTime - Australia’s Critical Guide to International Contemporary Arts [Matthew LORENZON] - Melbourne (AS), October 13, 2014.
[…] the French composer Clara Maïda brought her charged electroacoustic atmospheres to the Bendigo Bank Theatre.
The Conversation [Alistair NOBLE] - (UK), September 2014.
Clara Maïda, a […] composer now based in Paris and Berlin, was present for a performance of her remarkable Psyché-Cité/Transversales, a work for live instruments and electroacoustic sound derived from field recordings. Maïda’s work is strong, fiercely intelligent, and deeply affecting. She somehow manages to balance very careful consideration with an almost Varèse-like pleasure in the physicality of sound.
The Telegraph [Ivan HEWITT] - London (UK), November 2013.
The piece …, das spinnt… by French composer Clara Maïda conjured a picture of our mental life that was entertainingly witty, veering between obsessed circling repetitions, and sudden movements into new and apparently unconnected territory.
CD Classico [Andrea BEDETTI] - (IT), October 2013.
Practically unknown in Italy […], French composer Clara Maïda actually represents one of the most original and interesting voices of Western contemporary music, especially in France and Germany (she does not live and works by chance between Paris and Berlin).
This composer developed an artistic view at the intersection of two ways on which her attention has focused, the musical and the psychological one […]. The CD introduced here testifies to that […], and ideally describes her composition path. The first goal of Clara Maïda’s music is to throw light on the obscure aspects of human psyche (the influence of her Psychology studies is clear) and the CD, which presents pieces from 2003 to 2008, represents an ideal ensemble of this view. The very title of the CD, which means in Latin medical experimentations performed in the past on the bodies of people on the fringe of society (beggars, mentally ill, abandoned persons), wishes to reveal this obscure dimension, this locked, invisible, deeply occulted part of our unconscious or that of society. […] Built and based on an exacerbated rigorism, Clara Maïda’s music represents an extreme attempt at assembling, in a molecular principle of sound, harmonic lumps in perpetual transformation. Dark waves hastily cross over sound space under the violent and endless pressure of clusters, while harmonic glissandi endlessly merge in this space (in this respect, Arditti Quartet is exemplary, as usual). Coming to force the ego’s sphere, these eruptions of timbres inevitably induce in the listeners a sensation of odd oppression, meaning them however not to relax their listening, moved by the in-sane search for trouble, for the forbidden, for everything that is "sick". The listening is difficult, but necessary, for who prides him/herself on being provided with ears and a brain.
Deutschlandfunk - Atelier neue Musik [Isabel HERZFELD] - Berlin (DE), October 2010.
"Everything is connected to everything" - for composer Clara Maïda, this truism became the breeding ground of her creativity.
The composer of mixed French-Sicilian origin came to composition in a roundabout way, and twists, ramifications and networks are at the heart of her work.
For her, being educated as a psychologist, they can be the labyrinth of the urban networks as well as the nervous system. The subterranean world of the Paris subway and the psychic depths both inspired her composition concepts which simulate, for instance, an apocalyptic screenplay prompted by the confrontation with the atomic bunker located underneath The Story of Berlin museum.
In Maïda’s music, the nuclear chain reaction, fission and fusion, scientific processes are represented by sound masses made of tiny particles, which move, gradually transform, explode and assemble in new "sound molecules", thus inducing an atmosphere of disruption.
The High Pony Tail - Contemporary Music Blog - London (UK), June 2010.
The lengthy essay with in corpore vili (Edition RZ) is similarly packed with Lacanian psychoanalysis and the violent effects of the Symbolic on both human and musical bodies. Since my analyst was a Lacanian, you won't find me making glib remarks about whether such a discourse is or is not relevant to music at this late post-Bush II date. On first hearing, her string writing undeniably evokes Xenakis, but a wildly individual sensibility soon becomes apparent - discontinuous, willful and extremely aggressive. The excerpts from scores in the booklet, as brief as they are, make it clear that Maïda, who studied with both Lachenmann and Grisey, has not made things easy for herself by taking any shortcuts in the notational elaboration of her ideas.
The Wire Magazine - Contemporary Music Journal [Richard PINNELL] - London (UK), May 2010.
Maïda attempts to reenvisage the complex, erratic processes that take place in the subconscious through the fraught structures of her music. Mutatis mutandis […] moves through violently urgent passages of massed, wrenching screeches and frantic plucking, dropping intermittently and unexpectedly into silence. [...] The intensity and expanded palette of Psyché-Cité/Transversales is pared back in the earliest composition here, the short single-movement string quartet …who holds the strings… performed by the Arditti Quartet. The sense of turbulent torsion remains here, the strings attacked rather than caressed, and entangled masses of high and low register swoop and scrape colliding in the space. [...] an invigorating, if unnerving music that pulls no punches as it delves into the hidden recesses of the human mind.
Aufabwegen - Magazin - Contemporary Music Web Journal [Till KNIOLA] - Berlin (DE), May 2010.
The rich matter of a texture which clears away in an ethereal way. French composer Clara Maïda pictures herself as a researcher who wants to simulate flux and structures of psychic unconscious energy with sounds. A self-poetical reference field which would be the music of her mind. Whether they occupy a large space or they condensate in a solo part, the compositions move to the core, make a din even when the sound level is very low. In all the pieces, one can find again a tormented jubilation, an elastic time, a longing for being, for emerging. In Mutatis mutandis, performed by the excellent Resonanz ensemble, the amplified strings seem to weave autonomous sound filaments, such as an inanimate texture, hanging from the ceiling of a factory. However, an invisible cooperation results from their presumed proximity and suddenly, sounds are torn up one after the other as in a force field. This composition process is also present in the other pieces (in Doppelklänger for prepared and amplified piano), in the body itself of a self-dissolution. Sonorous despair but not without any hope.
DAAD-Magazin [Horst Willi SCHORS] - Berlin (DE), February 2010.
When French composer Clara Maïda was invited by the Berliner Künstlerprogramm (DAAD) in 2007, she made the disturbing discovery of the cold war’s evidences which were cast in concrete. She elaborated a system from a hostile bunker in which human survival seemed hardly conceivable after an atomic catastrophe. Maïda had developed earlier an artistic project related to the gruesome atmosphere of the Paris subterranean networks and she followed up her research in her series Shel(l)ter, with the macabre atmosphere of an atomic shelter considered as a curiosity in Berlin.
The Radialsystem V was a particularly appropriate venue for the premiere of her work on the subterranean labyrinth, for it was in the past the entrance of a liquid waste pumping-station, which spreads out its ramifications.
L’Itinéraire ensemble, conducted by Jean Deroyer, presented Maïda’s sound cosmos. The title Shel(l)ter plays on different meanings of the word "shelter" and "shell" (insertion of the letter "l"), this last word being used with both meanings (the shell and a weapon). Escaping from Maïda’s composition is as hard as from an atomic bunker. The predominant use of percussions and seven massive loudspeakers simply surround the audience and install the listener at the heart of events with the insistent will of making them imagine they need to find shelter in a bunker.
Berliner Zeitung [Peter UEHLING] - Berlin (DE), February 2, 2010.
[...] in Radialsystem, French composer Clara Maïda has opened the new dimensions of a sound monstrosity in the one-hour series Shel(l)ter.
Paris-Berlin - The French-German News Magazine [Stéphanie PICHON] - Berlin (DE), January 2010.
It is not easy to make a name for oneself in the small world of contemporary music. French composer Clara Maïda made one for herself in Berlin during an artistic residency. Since then, she has been shuttling between both countries and will present Shel(l)ter at Ultraschall festival at the end of the month. A musical project which is supported by the quite recent French-German fund for contemporary music.
The idea of Shel(l)ter came to Maïda while she was visiting the atomic bunker located underneath 'The Story of Berlin' museum. She likes to take her inspiration from subterranean worlds and she found matter in this claustrophobic environment.
"I like to refer to sound space. In a bunker, sounds are very muffled when they come through, it is a depopulated space, with a closed geometrical structure". The musical project materialized during an artistic residency in Berlin in 2008, via the context of the prestigious DAAD programme (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst).
Shel(l)ter is not soft and joyful music. In four acts, this contemporary piece makes use of the flux and echoes of a subterranean pre- or post-atomic world. A musical experience for the audience to find themselves "in a total sound structure, a sort of acoustic envelope, whose membranes would be set into vibration and enclose the listener on the sensorial level in the same way as the shelter encloses people on the material level", the composer explains.
Arte Sonoro - Portal for the Broadcasting of Sound Art - Mexico City (MX), September 2009.
Ipso Facto by French composer Clara MAÏDA tries to connect the psychic and physical experience with the urban world, by abolishing the opposition between objects and living creatures. Originally, this piece is composed to be played on seven independent audio canals.
Accents Online - Ensemble Intercontemporain's Webmagazine - Paris (FR), May 2009.
[...] An enigmatic Shel(l)ter - später... ( ) ...Winter, for clarinet, bassoon, cello, three percussion players and electronics by French-Berliner composer Clara Maïda.
Beside its quasi-homonymic assonance with a famous noisy hit by the Beatles, this piece, to my mind, will deserve all our attention. The composer, visibly attracted a lot of attention from Jonathan Harvey and her website visibly teems with sound samples in which music seems so fragmented and rearticulated as a Deoxyribonucleic acid molecule (a recurrent visual of the site). "From ever more numerous diffractions to more and more fragmented and migratory objects, the musical fabric is pulverized in floating and residual particles. [...] The piece attempts to retrace the process which occurs at the heart of matter and the laws which govern it", as explained in the programme note of her piece Kinê-Diffr(a)ct.
Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen - SRF Kultur - Basel (CH), August 2008.
Clara Maïda's Portrait
Clara Maïda first studied psychology. But her wish to compose became overwhelming. Today, she has won an international recognition and she composes for conventional ensembles as well as for electronics. She often uses material she has found by chance as a basis for her compositions in order to create new forms. Thanks to her sound richness and her originality, extraordinary expressivity can be found in her music.
Prix Ars Electronica - Linz (AT), April 2007.
Fluctuatio (in)animi, by French composer Clara Maïda, for flute, string quartet and electronics, was one of this year’s submitted compositions in which acoustic instruments and electronics were merging. We believe that this field still offers a big potential, and Fluctuatio (in)animi should be used as an outstanding model for next year’s presentations.
Taktik - Marseille (FR), May 1999.
Iniji by young composer Clara Maïda, a musical piece of half an hour or so, is based on a text by Henri Michaux. This creation uses onomatopoeias as a sound material while working additionally on space, sounds, images, lights, thus inventing a poetic environment.
La Provence - Marseille (FR), November 1997.
Il libro del sogno by Clara Maïda, the ultimate discovery of the evening, displayed a very tense instrumental writing, with sharp ridges. A work which would have deserved to be placed at the beginning of the evening.
Le Méridional - Marseille (FR), April 1997.
At La Criée, a premiered work Io, by Clara Maïda, a State and GMEM commission, called for a piano, played by Nathalie Négro, a cello, Bernard Amrani, flutes, played by David Dreyfus, clarinets, by Magali Rubio, and then, for electroacoustics.
The instrumental conversation, diversified, complementary, with no whimsical effects, gradually imposed its unity, its logic, and especially a poetic permeation closely related to the electroacoustic part.
Quiet at first, playing with the timbres, some brief melodic fragments, mixed with a score of sounds sometimes evoking those of a giant glass harmonica, and through which a distant and spectral female voice comes several times, the works then amplifies and gets more feverish, more clashing.
Before ending, all the instruments become silent, in slow and obsessional bells sounding like a toll up to the conclusive perdandosi.
Let’s say it again, a very poetic general impression, in which lyricism played its part, and which will justify the reception made to the composition, to her author and to the performers.
L’Éveil - Marseille (FR), April 1997.
From one stage to another
Io by Clara Maïda explodes in echoes, mirrors in which senses, sounds, colours echo each other in a Baudelairean way.
Al Dante [Thierry Aué] - Marseille (FR), April 1997.
Io ("I", in Italian) is a GMEM commission, for instrumental ensemble and electroacoustics, through which Clara Maïda pursues her interests in the place of the composer-creator in the work and questions the unconscious as a form of production of meaning. As indicated in the title, Maïda made her "music self-portrait".