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Max Richter
Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi - The Four Seasons
CD on Deutsche Grammophon
Cat No: 02894765040 , Stk Ref 79755

Released on: 02 February 2013

Magazine Review
How cool can the much respected (classical) music Deutsche Grammophon label be, asking 'modern composer' Max Richter to recompose the evergreen of baroque music? To make the baroque rock? With a baffling end result, Max Richter did not only do excellent fine-tuning, but he stripped the Venetian all-timer and made it look brand new! Agreed the shiny, rich tarnish had to go. Violinist Daniel Hope, however, must have encountered many surprises when reading Max Richter's new sheet music.

As it were, the plight to have 'The Four Seasons' remodelled, makes for an ambitious endeavour to say the very least. German-born, Scots-raised and now Berlin resident Max Richter was commissioned by the Deutsche Grammophon Re:Composed series. Sisyphus would resign, facing the task of even performing Vivaldi's 'Le Quattro Stagioni'. Just imagine the tons of callus on millions of musicians' hands grown over the past 286 years, since 'Le Quattro Stagioni' was first performed in Amsterdam and Paris. There must, however, be thousands and thousands of recordings of 'Die Vier Jahreszeiten'. The work was one of the first that a very young Max Richter ever heard.

With no disrespect, however, Richter's version, which features Berlin Concert Hall Chamber Orchestra and André de Ridder conducting, reworks Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons' in a most immaculate fashion and with a contemporary perception. It restores to dignity and brings back to life the 2nd Movement of Summer which in popular culture may be misconceived as television commercial muzak. The 3rd Movement, 'May' I suppose, features nothing but joyful and exhilarating playing, by which, and that's where I warn you, you might become overwhelmed.

The transition from Summer into Autumn, where Max Richter unashamedly re-interprets Vivaldi, sounds particularly striking. Whilst almost identical to a postponed solstice, the sharp and symphonic twists eventually extends into some very fierce playing and makes up the recomposed overture of 'Winter'.

Meanwhile, 'Summer' gets performed with such joy, and with such beauty, that when the season turns into 'Autumn', Max Richter has already cosily and closely nestled up in the realms of the greatest composer from baroque times.

The red thread Max Richter bares here is one of perpetual changes, and only time shall be testament to Richter's evocative re-interpretations of Vivaldi's recognized work. Daring, to put it mildly, here you get his four seasons masterpiece all spiced and all spiked up. The omnipresent itching in sound accompanies this fabulous reading. It is even available on a 180 grams vinyl LP with a download coupon.

Maarten Schiethart


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