Max Richter (b. 1966, British)

I had no idea who “Max Richter” was, except that he “recomposed” Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in 2012 (published in 2014 on DG 4792777) – and truth is, DG doesn’t seem to know either, or at least they don’t think it’s important to tell you (or maybe Max Richter is so important and famous that they feel they don’t need to tell you, and maybe even shouldn’t), since they tell you zilch about him in the rather scanty liner notes.

Well, thanks again Wikipedia (and I donate, too), and a very detailed entry too, and it turns out he’s German-born but grown in England, that he ” is classically trained, having graduated in composition from the Royal Academy of Music and studied with Luciano Berio in Italy” and “has been an influential voice in post-minimalist composition and in the meeting of contemporary classical and alternative popular musical styles since the early 2000s”. In fact, I realize that I might have known about Max Richter, since he is a co-founder of the Ensemble Piano Circus, and I have a number of CDs by them. But it’s one of those cases where the names of the individuals are shadowed by the name of the Ensemble.

Well, as you might expect once you know the guy’s stylistic whereabouts, his recomposed Four Seasons sound very much like music Michael Nyman could have composed. Enjoyable if you enjoy the music of Nyman. I love The Four Seasons (never get jaded) and I love transcriptions, and I sometimes enjoy Nyman – more when he is rhythmic and propulsive than when he is saccharine – so I’ve enjoyed Richter’s recomposition, but once heard once I’m happy to shelve it “for further reference”. I would have been tempted to give another try at Richter, but maybe a more personal and hence significant work – but the 30″ excerpts on Amazon of his album “Memoryhouse”, called in some quarters a “landmark work of contemporary classical music” (quoted in Wikipedia), let me think that I’d probably better pass. Conceptual collages and saccharine harmonies, thanks but no thanks.  On the other hand, I’ll keep listening to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons – in the original version or transcriptions.

DG doesn’t provide a bio for Vivaldi either – but I didn’t really need it.


Comments are welcome