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Max Richter - Sleep

  by Maarten Schiethart

published: 8 / 9 / 2015

Max Richter - Sleep
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Format: CD


Exquisite but somewhat unsubtle compilation album taken from composer Max Richter's extensive new eight hour work

From spleen to sleep marks a matter of just seconds. On this album survive just seven compositions, compiled from the thirty-four compositions that Max Richter wrote for his new piece and which collectively lasts for the recommended eight hours of sleep. The most striking moments of 'Sleep' are summed up in an hour which captivatingly flirts with choral music, minimalism and modern composition in a remarkably different manner. Apparently earlier blueprints for Max Richter's album were lost. It is as if he has returned to his early days of composing music on the piano, and his sense of calm and quiet has found a welcome new home on 'Sleep'. Whereas before Max Richter hesitated to indulge in lush minimalism, he now blends and smoothes together abstracts from his earlier works. To the experienced ear, 'Sleep' perhaps includes even more Berlin Kitsch than before. Denounced as he was by 'Wire Magazine', no other composer, however, has ever managed to blend both strident and proud composition together in such a way. 'Sleep' very much sounds like a new dawning to me. Which makes the album so terribly hard to review. I suppose the background noise of one's personal environment would be the decisive factor of judgement here. 'Sleep' simply will not work if one lives in a noisy neighbourhood like, for example, Manhattan. Much rather, 'Sleep' could be the ultimate soundtrack to the failed project of the Berlin Flughafen, and would be best performed on the huge empty plain of the long lost Berlin Airport Tempelhof. Perhaps 'Sleep' was written with 'Tempelhof' in mind, although I find no such evidence on this album though. The 'For Sleep' album thrives on angelic voices and drifting soundscapes. Undecided between melancholy and romanticism, Max Richter chooses innovation and does bugger all for tradition. 'Sleep' though isn't all brand new. The seven beautiful tracks culled off from the eight-hour long session all, however, excel in grace, harmony and beauty. Whilst centered around Richter's subtle and gentle piano play, they are helped along the way by the American Contemporary Music Ensemble conducted by Grace Davidson and also by the Berlin Philharmonic and illuminaries such as Daniel Hope and André Ridder. 'Sleep', therefore, becomes an item of varying sorts. First of all: the forthcoming performance of it in its entirety in Berlin in October. In second place: the eight hour session of your choice; and third this concise album. Like filter coffee, this brew makes sense and tastes fine. On record it is at one level an achievement which highlights Richter's exquisite sense, yet at times one wishes for a much more subtle performance. We have been tricked into a tacky American preview. Let's go to Berlin in October.

Track Listing:-
1 Dream 3 (in the midst of my
2 Path 5 (delta)
3 Space 11 (invisible pages ov
4 Dream 13 (minus even)
5 Space 21 (petrichor)
6 Path 19 (yet frailest)
7 Dream 8 (late and soon)

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Maarten Schiethart tries to stay awake to listen to Max Richter's new eight hour composition, 'Sleep'

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