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Max Richter sends you to sleep...

By Barry Moore |

The brooding composer devises a work tailored to eight hours sleep...

Would anyone like to enjoy eight hours sleep with Max Richter? With Sleep, the British composer has written what is without doubt one of the longest pieces of classical music ever recorded. The disc plunges the listener, for eight hours, into a world of dreams. « It's an eight hour lullaby, written for piano, strings, electronics, and voice, and is completely without words «, Richter stated. This is my version of the lullaby for our frenetic world. A manifesto for a slower pace of life. » Sleep will be given its world première in Berlin, in September. The concert will last from midnight until eight in the morning, and the attendees will forgo their chair and programme in favour of a bed! Released on September 4th, Deutsche Grammophon also offers a shortened, one hour version, entitled From Sleep. « You could say that this shorter version is intended to be 'listened' to while awake, while the longer one is designed to be 'heard' subliminally in a sleeping state », commented Richter, who described the hour-condensed version of the album as « a series of windows opening on the complete work... This is really an experiment to understand how we perceive music at different levels of consciousness. » The idea came to him, he asserted, as he had been fascinated by the phenomenon of sleep for quite some time. As he put it « Sleeping is one of the most important things we do. We spend a third of our lives asleep, and it's been one of my favourite things to do ever since I was a child. » In the composition of the work, Richter consulted the eminent American neuro-scientist David Eagleman to learn more about how the brain works when we are asleep. « Sleep is, to me, an attempt to see how, when our waking consciousness is on vacation, the space can be a place where music can flourish. » Works playing on the idea of recording time are not a new thing in music; as seen by the prior work of John Cage and Terry Riley, passing through LaMonte Young, many musicians have tried to make a mark in this way... Influenced as much by post-rock as classical, and by the electronic avant-garde, Max Richter has already released five solo discs, and for the sixth, he « reimagined » the famous Quatre saisons of Vivaldi. With Sleep, then, he has created a work in response to our busy lives, when, as he so rightly summed up, « we have more need of a pause button than ever. »

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