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PREVIEW: Max Richter
Vel Ilic , October 3rd, 2014 13:09

Vel Ilic previews this weekend's performance by Max Richter at London's Royal Albert Hall

Acclaimed neoclassical composer, pianist, producer, remixer, collaborator of note (having worked with Future Sound of London, Robert Wyatt et al) – one hesitates to label Max Richter as an enigma, but he is without question one of the most prolific, innovative and interesting musical artists of his generation.

His debut Royal Albert Hall performance will bring to life The Four Seasons Recomposed, his groundbreaking re-imagining of Vivaldi's masterpiece, arguably one of the most recognisable pieces of music ever written. Renowned British violinist Daniel Hope and the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra will join Richter (on piano, keyboard and electronics) for the night, which also includes a complete performance of his celebrated work The Blue Notebooks – marking the tenth anniversary of its original release – featuring a recorded narration of Tilda Swinton reading from Franz Kafka's The Blue Octavo Notebooks.

Originally released in 2012 and relaunched earlier this year, Vivaldi Recomposed instantly became part of the neoclassical canon. Propelled by gentle soporific swathes of violin, chamber music and looping electronica, it's a haunting, delicate and deeply resonant work. Richter himself has spoken about getting inside the “well-known landscape” of Vivaldi's Four Seasons to rediscover it, and it duly messes with your head; segments of Vivaldi's familiar melodies are there, of course, in the soft, cultivated ebbs and flows, but, with Richter's ethereal harmonies lurking beneath, it feels different, unexpected, enhanced and reloved, rather like a piece of vintage furniture given a fresh lick of paint.

The Blue Notebooks, meanwhile – Richter's exquisite second album – is beautifully ornate, a striking collection of atmospheric, filmic compositions that, like much of his work, centre on glorious desolation and gentle crescendo. Four tracks in, the epochal Shadow Journal is the album's classical/electronic equilibrium, a piercing fusion of harpsichord, viola and substratal synthetic pulse; foregoing the emotional foreplay of pulling at your heartstrings, it ties them up in a succession of tight constrictor knots instead.

Richter is a man in demand; his RAH performance will cap what has already been quite a year for the German-born composer, which has seen him sign an exclusive deal with revered classical label Deutsche Grammophon, renew his collaboration with choreographer Wayne MacGregor on a new full-length work for The Royal Ballet and finish work on a new album, set for release in early 2015. Given the prestigious venue, its peerless atmosphere and the intensity of Richter's exquisitely realised music, Saturday night promises to be very special indeed.

For tickets, please visit the Royal Albert Hall website here

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