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Baker's Dozen

In Pursuit Of Restless Beauty: Max Richter's 13 Favourite LPs
Ed Power , July 26th, 2017 11:39

With the release of his deep dive Behind The Counter compilation, composer Max Richter talks to Ed Power about the albums that shaped his musical philosophies and encouraged him to escape the humdrum of suburbia


Arvo Pärt  – Passio 
This is a big piece – it fills two CDs and must be over two and a half hours long. It’s amazing – an example of all kinds of music traditions joining up. There’s a minimalist aspect; the language comes from medieval music yet it feels incredibly emotional because of the way the parts interact. At the same time, it is rigorously structured "systems music" that doesn’t feel that way. That’s the magical thing about it. It sounds as if it has been programmed on an old patterned sequencer. Yet somehow it feels like this magical flow of music. A brilliant example of how rules and structures can result in very emotional sounds. 

One of the things Passio is about is the beauty of sound. We’re not really supposed to talk about beauty in music nowadays. People get a bit suspicious about that, even though it’s the whole basis of ambient music. A tactile, synaptic connection with pure sound – that’s what Arvo Part is in some ways about. His music does sound beautiful yet it is very rigorously made. The compositional systems he employs connect into electronic music. 

There is a kinship in the sense that a lot of my stuff is very carefully organised. It is written out in a way that makes sense in a purely geometrical or theoretical flavour. However, I don’t want the listener to feel that at all. That’s for me –  my way of getting from A to B in composition in a piece of music. I want it to feel inevitable when you are listen to it. All that complexity is going on underneath. I want that to be hidden – for it to feel natural. That’s the connection, I guess. 

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