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Max Richter in Exile

By Marc Zisman |

With "Exiles", the German-British composer pens an intense album about the migrant crisis...

After addressing the 2005 London terrorist attacks on Infra (2010), the war in Iraq on The Blue Notebooks (2003) and the conflicts in Kosovo on Memoryhouse (2002), Max Richter places the migrant crisis at the centre of Exiles, which he published in the heart of summer 2021. Although his protean work alternates between film scores, atypical re-readings of classical pieces, conceptual projects and unexpected collaborations, the German-British composer has regularly anchored some of his music in reality and in the ills of his time.

Here, his commitment is combined with a novel formal approach. Exiles indeed brings together different materials. The central piece that gives the disc its title is the music for a ballet written for the Nederlands Dans Theater company and its resident choreographers Sol León and Paul Lightfoot. The virtuosity of Richter lies in the universality of the theme of this work, carried by the heart-rending strings of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic conducted by Kristjan Järvi. Intensity as well as bewitchment remain at the centre of this music more influenced than ever by American minimalists such as Philip Glass and Steve Reich, but above all by the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt whom Richter visited during the recording of the disc...

He completes Exiles with orchestral versions of earlier iconic chamber works from his catalogue: On the Nature of Daylight from The Blue Notebooks, Infra 5 from Infra, The Haunted Ocean from the music of the film Waltz with Bashir and Sunlight from Songs from Before. In this symphonic context, Max Richter's music reveals new hues that the infinite repetition of the compositional motif Exiles exacerbates as the minutes pass...

Assembled in this way, all these apparently heterogeneous pieces manage to form a whole. An entity that mirrors the strong personality of this key player in the contemporary neo-classical scene, a label that never ceases to be debated. But whatever the bottle, as long as you get drunk, Exiles remains a fascinating discographic object. A work blending sophistication, simplicity and beauty as never before.

Listen to "Exiles" by Max Richter now on Qobuz!