Chaya Czernowin


mode 219

Maim (Water)


mode 219 Chaya CZERNOWIN: MAIM – Rico Gubler, saxophone, tubax (recorded & live); Peter Veale, oboe, musette, french horn; John Mark Harris, piano & harpsicord; Seth Josel, electric & steel guitars; Mary Oliver, viola; Live Electronics by the Experimentalstudio des SWR; Konzerthausorchester Berlin / Johannes Kalitzke, conductor.

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Maim (Water)
For 5 soloists, live electronics & orchestra. Recorded live Mar. 17, 2007 at the Konzerthaus Berlin, MaerzMusik Festival of Contemporary Music. Rico Gubler, sax, tubax ; John Mark Harris, piano, harpsichord ; Seth Josel electric guitar, steel guitar ; Mary Oliver, viola ; Peter Veale, musette, oboe, English horn ; Experimentalstudio des SWR (Michael Acker, Reinhold Braig, Thomas Hummel) ; Konzerthausorchester Berlin ; Johannes Kalitzke, conductor. Recorded in 2007.

Chaya Czernowin
MAIM (2002-2006)

1.  Maim zarim maim Gnuvim (strange water stolen water)  (17:21)
2.  The memory of water   (8:32)
3.  Mei mecha’a (water of dissent)   (18:25)

Rico Gubler, saxophone, tubax (recorded and live)
Peter Veale, oboe, musette, English horn
John Mark Harris, piano & harpsichord
Seth Josel, electric & steel guitars
Mary Oliver, viola
Live-Electronics: Experimentalstudio des SWR,
Michael Acker, Reinhold Braig, Thomas Hummel, sound direction
Konzerthausorchester Berlin
Johannes Kalitzke, conductor

Maim, a major piece in Ms. Czernowin’s œuvre, is a large scale, 50-minute orchestral tryptch with 5 soloists. The 5 soloists are include regular interpreters of her music: Rico Gubler, tubax (a hybrid of a saxophone & tuba); Peter Veale, oboe & musette; John Mark Harris, piano & harpsichord; Seth Josel, guitars; Mary Oliver, viola.

Maim, “water” in Hebrew, is the metaphor which dominates the piece. Elementary forms of water appear throughout Maim, musically translated. Scattered droplets — articulated as points — close Maim zarim, maim gnuvim; the same droplets begin Mei Mecha’a, but this time, perhaps, condensed. Condensation, indeed, is meant in almost a literal sense here: where at the end of Maim zarim, maim gnuvim these are truly heard as liquid points, in their re-articulation at the beginning of Mei Mecha’a, they are in a state between that and one seemingly gaseous, or at least cloud-like, even if whether vapor is condensing into liquid, or vice versa, remains unclear. Those same points begin to crystallize into solid form in their rapid, meccanico repetition, which dominates the centre of The Memory of Water. But this is not a romantic tone poem. The motion between its states follows a logic which is anything but that of water itself.

Maim springs from the thought that only a small part of human communication lies in words. Most comes through gestures, timbre, tempo, and the world’s great problems result from the overvaluation of words. Influenced by the huge media coverage of the Middle East, Chaya Czernowin has composed a sensitive piece which sounds out the possibilities of music against the background of a newly understood communication.

Following its Berlin premier in March 2007 at the prestigious MaerzMusik Festival, the critic John Warnaby said: “…“Maim” is probably her finest achievement to date. …the product of a remarkable sonic imagination. The solo instrumental quintet and ‘live’ electronics create a delicate tapestry of sound, but equally the orchestra is deployed with considerable power when necessary.”

Trilingual notes (English, German, French) by Martin Iddon and the composer are included.


MAIM [Water] (mode 219) is the third and, in this reporter’s opinion, most impressive CD mode has devoted to this remarkable composer. (There are two other mode CDs, both recommended, and a DVD of an opera, which I have not seen. For information, MAIM calls for five soloists, live electronics and orchestra: Rico Gubler, saxophone and tubax (a tuba-like sax); John Mark Harris, piano and harpsichord; Seth Josel, electric and steel guitars; Mary Oliver, viola; Peter Veale, musette (a small oboe), oboe, and English horn; electronics realized by the Experimental Studio of South-West Radio (Germany) – Michael Acker, Reinhold Braig and Thomas Hummel, sound direction; Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Johannes Kalitzke conducting.

Because this is one of the most impressive large-scale recordings I’ve heard in quite a long time, I should mention and commend Producer Rainer Pöllman, Recording Supervisor Jens Schünemann, who also did the mastering, Recording Engineer Hajo Seiler, and Sound Technician Tobias Hoff.

Thanks to a recording that succeeds splendidly in telling us so, the listener will recognize, almost immediately, that MAIM is huge in conception yet exactingly precise –uninhibited, yes, but exquisitely well crafted. The insert’s info page advises PLAY LOUD in big, bold letters, and you should. The music’s engaging turns run from mice-scamper to rock-slide, and the recording gets it all, every spacious squeak and roar. For the music lover who despairs for an art form’s present-day timidity, MAIM should serve as the most bracing of tonics (no pun intended). Recommended with no less enthusiasm to the chronically curious.

— Mike Silverton, Random Noise #25, June 2010,

Dirk Weischolleck, Neue Zeitschrift für musik,
September-October 2010

  • Gianluigi Mattietti, Ruch Muzynczny, 4/2011


Chaya Czernowin

Afatsim: Chamber Music (mode 77)
Shu Hai Practices Javelin (mode 117)
Pnima…ins Innere: Opera in 3 Acts, (mode 169 DVD)

Rico Gubler
John Mark Harris
Seth Josel
Johannes Kalitzke
Mary Oliver
Peter Veale
Experimentalstudio des SWR
Konzerthausorchester Berlin