MUSIC TO MAX’S EARS
Max Richter signs to Deutsche Grammophon
Berlin, March 2014
Contemporary British composer Max Richter today announced a new partnership with Deutsche Grammophon, the world’s oldest classical music label.
Composer, musician, producer, remixer and collaborator extraordinaire, Richter defies definition. An enigma he may be; what is beyond argument is that he is one of the most prolific musical artists of his generation.
The exclusive new deal encompasses new works and collaborations, as well as the release in April on Deutsche Grammophon of his best-selling solo albums Infra, 24 Postcards in Full Colour, Songs from Before and The Blue Notebooks. In addition, a new recording of Richter’s much-praised orchestral work Memoryhouse will appear in September.
To celebrate the new partnership, Deutsche Grammophon will issue a new edition of Richter’s highly acclaimed Vivaldi Recomposed, his unique reworking of The Four Seasons for violin, chamber orchestra and moog synthesizer – already one of the most talked-about new classical works of recent times. This best-selling album will now also include remixes, newly-composed electronic soundscapes, and an exclusive performance film, featuring Max Richter and violinist Daniel Hope, and shot in East Berlin in late 2013. A brand-new app will go on sale at the same time, allowing users to experience Recomposed and an original version of Vivaldi’s classical hit side by side, with commentary, background essays and unique user functionalities.
Pictured signing his new contract at this week’s Universal Music Global Classical Music Conference, with (left to right) Jane Carter, Mark Wilkinson, Costa Pilavachi, Christian Badzura, Max Hole and Ute Fesquet, Richter commented: “I am thrilled to be part of the Yellow Label family, and look forward to helping shape the presentation of and passion for contemporary music over the coming years.
Rediscover a classic, only on iPad. The world-famous piece comes to life with incredible detail, insight and two amazing performances. Vivaldi’s Four Seasons tells the story of Vivaldi’s masterpiece with Trevor Pinnock’s cult rendition of Vivaldi’s original masterpiece, Max Richter’s groundbreaking Recomposed and a wealth of text, audio and video commentary.
Features of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons include:
|21. Juni 2014||Daniel Hope
Pieces from “The four seasons – recomposed by Max Richter”
Orquesta Nacional de España
Madrid, Auditorio Nacional de Música
|4. Oktober 2014||Daniel Hope / Max Richter
Pieces from “The four seasons – recomposed by Max Richter”
Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra
Max Richter Ensemble
London, Royal Albert Hall
MAX RICHTER – BIOGRAPHY
Composer, pianist, producer, remixer, collaborator extraordinaire: Max Richter defies definition. An enigma he may be; what is beyond argument is that he is one of the most prolific musical artists of his generation.
Inspired equally by The Beatles and Bach, punk rock and ambient electronica, Richter blends baroque beauty with minimalist methodology, classical orchestration with modern technology.
The result is a monumental body of work encompassing concert music, operas, ballets, art and video installations, multiple film, theatre and television scores and a series of acclaimed solo albums incorporating poetry and literature.
His latest challenges include having taken one of the most recognisable pieces of music from the classical canon – Vivaldi’s Four Seasons – and “recomposed” it for the 21st century.
Born in Germany and brought to Britain as a small boy, Max began taking piano lessons at a young age. His fast-growing knowledge of classical music was tempered by his discovery of punk rock: a voyage of discovery that continued through Stockhausen and the American minimalists.
He studied at Edinburgh University, graduated to the Royal Academy of Music and completed his studies in Florence under the influential avant-garde composer Luciano Berio.
“I had a very classical musical training but I was totally into what was going on around me at the time in the UK in the early 1980s – and that was electronica and punk,” Max explains. “The first gigs I went to were The Clash and Kraftwerk when I was 14. I loved the primitive energy of punk but at the same time I was studying classical music academically and using soldering irons to build analogue synthesisers in my bedroom. For me those things have always flowed together.”
These are the diverse influences at work in Richter’s music: the minimalist aesthetic that traces a path from the composers of the early 1960s (Reich, Glass) through to punk rock and Brian Eno’s invention of ambient electronica in the 1970s; a formal classical education and the experimentalism of the avant-garde; the cut-up methods of electronic dance music and today’s cannibalistic remix culture.
Richter began his career as a founding member of Piano Circus, a contemporary classical group that played and commissioned works by Steve Reich, Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass and Brian Eno. Max stayed for ten years and five albums, gradually incorporating electronic elements and found sounds – the building blocks of what would become one of his trademarks.
Next came a period of collaboration with electronic musicians The Future Sound of London (1996–98), and Mercury Music Prize winners Roni Size and Reprazent (2000).
Breaking away from his collaborators, Richter embarked on what would become his first “solo” album, the orchestral work Memoryhouse (2002), which included electronic sounds, recordings and voices. Later used as the soundtrack of a BBC documentary, Auschwitz – The Nazis And The Final Solution (2005), it was recently given its live premiere at the Barbican (2014).
His next album, The Blue Notebooks (2004), was his first with Fat Cat Records and featured actress Tilda Swinton reading extracts from Kafka. “One of the reasons I sent my demo to Fat Cat was because I heard the first Sigur Rós album and it sounded to me like Arvo Pärt with guitars,” he says. “So I knew it would be a good home for me.”
That was followed by Songs From Before (2006), with Robert Wyatt reading from Haruki Murakami, and an album of ringtones, 24 Postcards In Full Colour (2008).
His most recent solo album, Infra (2010), inspired by TS Eliot’s The Waste Land, features piano, electronics and a string quartet. It is an extension of Richter’s own score for a Royal Ballet-commissioned collaboration with dancer Wayne McGregor and artist Julian Opie for the Royal Opera House.
Max’s music has formed the basis of numerous other dance works, including pieces by Lucinda Childs, Netherlands Dance Theatre, Ballet du Rhin, American Ballet Theatre, Dresden Semperoper, Dutch National Ballet and Norwegian National Ballet.
Recent commissions include the chamber opera Sum, based on David Eagleman’s acclaimed book, for The Royal Opera House, London, and Mercy, commissioned by Hilary Hahn.
In the art world, Richter has composed the soundscape The Anthropocene for Darren Almond’s film installation at London’s White Cube gallery (2010) and has twice collaborated with digital art collective rAndom International, contributing scores to the installations Future Self (Berlin 2012) and Rain Room (London 2012/New York 2013).
His film scores include the award-winning Waltz With Bashir (2007) for Israeli director Ari Folman, and his music has been used in more than 30 other films and trailers by directors including Martin Scorsese (Shutter Island, 2010), Clint Eastwood (J. Edgar, 2011), André Téchiné (Impardonnables [Unforgivable], 2011), Ridley Scott (Prometheus, 2012) and Terrence Malick (To The Wonder, 2012).
He has also produced two folk records: Sixties legend Vashti Bunyan’s comeback album Lookaftering (2005) and former Sneaker Pimps singer Kelli Ali’s Rocking Horse (2008).
Max Richter’s many awards include the European Film Award for Best Composer (for Waltz With Bashir) and further prizes for his scores for Lore and Die Fremde (When We Leave).
He has also recently won Germany’s prestigious ECHO Klassik award for the album that resulted from a 2012 invitation from Deutsche Grammophon to “recompose” Vivaldi’s Four Seasons: a widely acclaimed success that has just been re-released with additional remixes and ambient interpretations that Max calls “Shadows”, as well as a live concert DVD.
Richter picked his favourite bits of the score and reshaped them into “new objects”, layering and looping familiar fragments to reinvigorate a work diminished by overuse in elevators, TV ads and as telephone “holding music”. “I only kept about 25 per cent of the notes but there’s Vivaldi DNA in all of it,” says Max. “I kept the gestures and shapes, the textures and dynamics. There are bits of Vivaldi and bits of me daydreaming about the original, thinking aloud about it.”
Richter believes the composer would have appreciated what he has done with his 300-year-old work. “Vivaldi was a kind of rock star himself: an incredible violinist with long red hair, who formed an orchestra of young women to play his music and had women fainting at his concerts. Composers have always recycled and borrowed other composers’ work, as Vivaldi did himself, so I think he would have had some sympathy with this project.”
In March 2014, as a result of this successful partnership with the Yellow Label, Max Richter signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon. The next chapter of his extraordinary career is now set to unfold…
Recomposed is a series of albums released by Deutsche Grammophon in which classical pieces are reinterpreted by leading artists of the club music scene.
The musicians involved so far include Finnish multi-instrumentalist Jimi Tenor, the pioneering duo of legendary Detroit producer Carl Craig and German dub techno master Moritz von Oswald, acclaimed German Hip Hop producer Matthias Arfmann, and the UK’s Matthew Herbert, conceptual artist and sampling wizard. As varied as the albums produced by these artists are, they’re all based on digitally reworked recordings from the Deutsche Grammophon archive.
Now, for the first time, Recomposed is presenting a genuinely new recoding: Vivaldi Recomposed. British composer Max Richter, whose best-known works include the award-winning score for Ari Folman’s animated film Waltz with Bashir, has brought Antonio Vivaldi’s masterpiece The Four Seasons into the present for Recomposed, opening up the work to an entirely new listenership. At the same time, his respect for the original and its performance history mean that seasoned classical music lovers will also find plenty to enjoy in this recomposition.
Richter’s score is performed on the album by virtuoso violinist Daniel Hope and Berlin’s Konzerthaus Chamber Orchestra. At the helm is André de Ridder, the composer’s own choice for this project and one of the most fascinating and versatile conductors working today, having collaborated with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Gorillaz, jazz musician Uri Caine and contemporary music group Ensemble musikFabrik, among others.
Of his work for the Recomposed series, Max Richter says the challenge was “to create a new score, an experimental hybrid, that constantly references ‘Vivaldi’ but also ‘Richter’ and that is current but simultaneously preserves the original spirit of this great work”.