Maya Beiser has performed and premiering modern works for the cello across four continents since the early 1990s. Composers as diverse as Steve Reich, John Zorn and Tan Dun have written works especially for her, and she has been a consistent member of Bang On A Can All-Stars ensemble. Beiser has tremendous technique--she is at ease with Haydn as with Meredith Monk--and a soulful, passionate approach that never allows even the most "austere-sounding" work lapse into sterility.
Here, she presents an eclectic yet unified program of pieces written by composers touched by ethnic/traditional folk music, many of whom are performers themselves. "Khse Buon," by Cambodian-American Chinary Ung, is a heartbreaking threnody drawing upon Cambodian folk motifs, modality, sustained drones and microtonality, evoking the deep spirituality of John Tavener and Arvo Pärt without ever sounding like either. Palestine-born Simon Shaheen (a frequent collaborator of Bill Laswell) contributes the exhilarating "Samai Nahawand," which (without resorting to mere pastiche) shows the common ground shared (rhythmically and melodically) by European and Arabic classical music, Indian raga and Gypsy/Rom folk melodies.
This album is virtually solo cello (unaccompanied as well as multi-tracked), with accompaniment on two tracks by Simon Shaheen (oud) and Glen Velez (frame drum). This "minimal" approach--along with the emotive yet subtle performance of Beiser, of course--gives the superb KINSHIP its axis, the focal point that shapes a cohesive listening experience.