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Max Richter - Memoryhouse

  by Maarten Schiethart

published: 15 / 1 / 2014

Max Richter - Memoryhouse
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In our 'Re:View' section, in which we look back at albums from the past, Maarten Schiethart reflects on British composer Max Richter's extraordinary 2002 debut 'Memoryhouse', which has just been reissued

After a string of highly impressive albums, Fat Cat's offshoot label 13070 reissues Max Richter's debut to coincide with a live performance of 'Memoryhouse' with conductor André de Ridder, of The Berlin Philharmonic, although now with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, at the Barbican Centre on the 27th January. In 2002 the BBC commisioned 'Memoryhouse', and the album was first released on its late 'Late Junction' imprint. 'Memoryhouse' was, however, never performed in full. André de Ridder conducted Richter's take on Vivaldi's 'The Four Seasons' two years ago. In hindsight, if in actuality this word can be used in a relation to music, 'Memoryhouse' combines narrative qualities with sketches of grand composing. Romantic and contemplative, the atmosphere on 'Memoryhouse' is strongly (Middle-) European, with for example an ode to the first dog in space in 'Laika's Journey'. The gorgeous suspense on 'Sarajevo' then though fades, and touches of steady, busy and contemporary electronica enter this debut of many sides. 'Jan's Notebook' is a tribute on the harpsichord to Amsterdam organist and composer Jan Sweelinck (sway-link), changing the mood to the 17th Century. Anachronically, 'Memoryhouse' then turns to romantic minimalism on the puzzling 'Arbenita (11 Years)', while the carefree 'Garden (1973) / Interior' composition brings back the elegant harpsichord. 'Landscape With Figure (1922)' can now be considered the blueprint for Richter's subsequent works, with more haunting suspense. Rather experimental intermezzos and little kammerspiel pieces are abruptly followed by the 'Last Days', which of large symphonic proportions, features mighty brass and wind sections. My immediate intention was to stand up and applaud before I became aware that I was only listening to an advance copy.

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Max Richter - Memoryhouse

Max Richter - Memoryhouse

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