By: Ginnia Cheng

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The Royal Albert Hall | October 4, 2014

Photograph by Wolfgang Borrs, Deutsche Grammophon.

This Saturday 4th October marks the tenth anniversary of Max Richter’s most critically acclaimed album “The Blue Notebooks” – possibly the finest example of electronic and classical music combined. In celebration – and what a celebration indeed – he will be making his Royal Albert Hall debut, performing both “The Blue Notebooks” and “The Four Seasons Recomposed”, his impressive take on Vivaldi’s masterpiece, alongside the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and famed violinist Daniel Hope.

The German-born British composer is best known for bridging the gap between the genres of classical and indie – in other words, making classical cool for a whole generation who had pigeonholed anything pre-1900s as tedious music for boring people. And really, there’s nothing “cooler” than getting your music picked by some of the world’s most respected directors to feature in their films.

Even if you’ve not heard of Richter, there’s no doubt that you’ll have heard his music. I like to think of him as the Kevin Bacon of neo-classical. He’s worked with so many different artists that surely he’s just as six-degrees-separated as Mr. Bacon himself. You can see this even within a single album – “The Blue Notebooks” boasts multiple tracks used in popular films. If you’re an (((0))) reader, I imagine you’ll have watched either Will Ferrell’s Stranger than Fiction or Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island – ‘On the Nature of Daylight’ has been used in both. ‘Shadow Journal’ and ‘Organum’ also featured in the soundtrack of Ari Folman’s ‘Waltz With Bashir’ (in fact, Richter himself composed the film’s original score). The album also features super cool indie queen herself Tilda Swinton reading Frank Kafka and Czes?aw Mi?osz – which alone connects Richter to most of Hollywood.

With the other record he’ll be performing on Saturday – “The Four Seasons Recomposed” – Richter takes contemporising classical musical to a whole new level. The collection sees Richter pull together an atmospheric mixture of strings and electronics to build a “Four Seasons” suited for a generation more comfortable with samples and remixes. Even the most casual of music listeners will recognise snippets of “Spring” from just flipping through TV channels or…well, just having any exposure to audio media generally. It’s a mighty brave thing to deconstruct one of the world’s most well known classical masterpieces and put an avant-garde spin on it.

Both bodies of work rely on almost laser-cut precision in execution, so watching how they translate into a live recreation in one sitting will be fascinating. Added to that, while Richter’s appearances in London are often at “alternative” venues like the Barbican or Southbank Centre, his first appearance at the evocative Royal Albert Hall – whose walls will no doubt have been shaped by the accumulated sound waves of Vivaldi’s own “Four Seasons” being performed – will be an utter treat.


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