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Max Richter's concert @ Blenheim Palace, 16 June 2017 - contemporary classical music delight

Max Richter @ Blenheim Palace

When I think of Max Richter's music, I think of redefinition - to me, he redefines the landscape of contemporary classical music whilst retaining humility and harmony in its composition. Personally, I am not a fan of contemporary classical music which spirals too much out of control and into the unknown like a lot of atonal music. His music shows me that there is a lot that can be achieved in the genre of contemporary classical music just by being simple, clean and expressive.

So when I heard about his concert set in the beautiful grounds of Blenheim Palace, of course I bought tickets right away! What a great surprise it was to see Ray Chen (my favourite violinist currently) performing in that concert!

The concert opened with the shimmering sounds of violins depicting birds and butterflies fluttering in Spring - yes, the performance of the Recomposed Four Seasons! I was so very excited to see this live, with Max Richter playing a cloudy bass line and Ray Chen, the virtuosic violin passages. The performance was sublime and the warm Summer's afternoon really brung the music to life. Imagine Spring coming into life whilst listening to the below piece!

What followed were performances of his more recent works, Woolf Works. Woolf Works is a dance piece based on three Virginia Woolf novels (Mrs. Dalloway, Orlando, and The Waves) at the Royal Opera House. There is a lot of diversity amongst these works. 'Mrs Dalloway: Word' opens up with chiming of bells, gongs and sounds of traffic, after which follows a recording of Virginia Woolf reading what seems like a poem 'Word Fails Me.' After the first few pieces, other pieces seem more conventional to his style like 'War Anthem' (music below) which exudes deep and heavy cinematic emotion with sweeping orchestral sounds.

It gets more adventurous as one expects from Max Richter. In 'Orlando: Modular Astronomy,' for example he uses a combination of smooth and mechanical electronics building the feeling of anticipation steadily. The adventurousness comes to a halt in 'The Waves: Tuesday' (music below) which features a woman's solemn voice in soprano against the backdrop of recurring oceanic strings. In the beginning of the piece, she reads a dramatic suicide letter. It was all very haunting.

The end of the concert was marked by his renowned piece 'On the Nature of Daylight,' which is the main theme in the movie, Shutter Island. What an astounding concert and I wished it could all happen again!

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