Of this very personal project, Maya says, “TranceClassical started from a washed-out still photo in my mind – me, as a little girl curled with a blanket on her parents’ sofa, hearing Bach for the first time, hanging on to every mysterious note coming out of the scratchy LP. TranceClassicalis the arc my mind sketches between everything I create and Bach – David Lang and Bach, Glenn Kotche and Bach, Michael Gordon and Bach. No matter how far I venture, how rebellious, or avant-garde or electronic, my artistic mooring stays with the creation of this immense genius. Was it his music? Or just being an impressionable young girl, trying to partake in her parents’ worship? Probably both. But the pieces I bring here give me a sense of trance – a reverie and meditation on his place in my heart.”
Maya’s performance of J.S. Bach’s Air on G, which opens the album, evokes the sound of an old LP, spinning on a distant turntable. Michael Gordon’s All Vowstakes the Jewish Yom Kippur prayer, the Kol Nidrei (which translates to All Vows) and reimagines it entirely. Maya melds cello and electronically transformed vocals, sung simultaneously while she plays, in Imogen Heap’s mesmerizing Hide and Seek. Composer and drummer Glenn Kotche of Wilco contributes Three Parts Wisdom, a rhythmic and multilayered new work for Maya, described as “a soaring, gorgeous tour de force for solo cello” by The Washington Post. In Lou Reed’s Heroin, arranged by David Lang, Maya sings the haunting confessional over her cello’s arpeggios in a startlingly moving take on the original. Julia Wolfe’s Emunah(or “belief”) is an ancient-feeling vocal and cello duo expressing and expounding on the idea of devotion. Arab-American composer Mohammed Fairouz's new Kol Nidrei, in which Maya sings the text in Aramaic, also engages echoes of ancient cantorial styles, and has been described as “simply gorgeous” (The New York Times)and “luxuriant” (San Francisco Chronicle). David T. Little’s driving Hellhound, written for Maya, is based on legendary bluesman Robert Johnson's 1937 song Hellhound On My Trail, which tells the story of a man pursued by demons, unable to rest. The album closes with Maya’s plaintive but ardent arrangement of Medieval visionary Hildegard von Bingen’s O Virtus Sapientiae.