ICE Classic: Max Richter – Musical Tales
On the 1st of May, ICE Kraków hosted a Max Richter concert, which presented material from the Recomposed… and The Blue Notebooks albums.
As part of the new ICE Classic series at the ICE Kraków Congress Centre, we saw a performance by one of the most interesting composers of recent years – Max Richter. Hailed as the most influential composer of his generation, he is also a prolific and busy artist, composing for opera, ballet, film, television and theatre. Efforts to invite him to our city lasted over two years, but we finally succeeded and the unconventional and versatile artist appeared before the Krakow audience on Sunday to share his rich and sensitive to beauty world of sound. The concert began with a presentation of the album Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi – The Four Seasons, in which the musician worked on Antonio Vivaldi’s famous violin concertos, The Four Seasons. The work, published in 1725, made a huge impression on the young Richter. Years later, the composer realised that Antonio Vivaldi’s hit was everywhere – in lifts, in television ads, accompanying us in our shopping. He decided that because of this, we lose the opportunity to appreciate The Four Seasons as a genius work of music and decided to restore it to music once again. Thus was born the idea for the best-selling album released by prestigious German label Deutsche Grammophon. Richter penetrated the musical landscape of the Red Priest, discovered it anew and created an arena for further exploration. Leaving what is most important in music – its core, its musical DNA – thanks to a modern treatment, he made it possible to look at The Four Seasons with a fresh eye. We heard the work, recomposed and filtered through Richter’s sensitivity, in a fantastic performance by one of the best ensembles in Poland – the Sinfonietta Cracovia orchestra. The formation, famous for its artistic explorations and masterful interpretations, was led from the synthesisers and electronic instruments by the composer himself. The solo violin part was brilliantly performed by Norwegian artist Mari Samuelsen. In her performance, the violinist presented not only classical virtuosity, but also a rock edge. Particularly impressive were the third movement of “Summer” (“Presto”) and the first movement of “Winter” (“Allegro non molto”). With a Baroque fabric and modern technologies, Richter succeeded in what might seem impossible: he composed a new, still absorbing neo-classical story from already known elements.
The second part of the concert was entirely filled by material from Richter’s second album, the 2004 The Blue Notebooks. The artist performed it along with musicians of the Max Richter Ensemble. Richter opened the doors to a world full of reflection, serenity and tranquillity. The post-minimalist composition, containing readings of fragments of works by Franz Kafka and Czesław Miłosz, is a personal artistic statement, in which we can participate by immersing ourselves in repetitive sounds and motifs. Richter and his ensemble managed to create an intimate, cinematic, and at times even meditative mood on the stage. The static sounds of the string quartet, combined with the sounds of electronic instruments, created an incredible sound aura. The two stories, two musical gifts that Max Richter gave us in one evening, left the audience feeling euphoric. After a long standing ovation, the artists repeated “On the Nature of Dalich” from The Blue Notebooks as an encore. It was worth waiting two years for such a feast of sounds!