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Max Richter - The New Four Seasons - Vivaldi Recomposed Music Album Reviews

Max Richter - The New Four Seasons - Vivaldi Recomposed Music Album Reviews
A decade after his wildly successful rework of the Baroque giant’s ubiquitous string concerti, the London composer revisits the material yet again, but the differences can be hard to pick out.

Nearly two hundred years after the death of Antonio Vivaldi in 1741, he was a name known only to scholars of Bach and the Baroque, a ghost who haunted Western music from a small cemetery outside the city walls of Vienna. But the Italian composer’s resurrection in the years before World War II was dramatic. In the 1930s, Vivaldi’s greatest cheerleader, Ezra Pound, helped usher him into the canon through a series of performances in Rapallo, on the Italian Riviera. By the 1950s, students all over the globe were beginning to learn the Venetian’s compositions, but four violin concerti, rightly or wrongly, stand above the rest.

The Four Seasons is among the most famous pieces of music in the history of Western culture, beloved and derided in equal measure—like any omnipresent work of pop. As Alex Ross argued in The New Yorker, we now think of Vivaldi as “the Muzak of the middle classes, the backbeat of the bourgeois bustle.” This reputation mostly stems from The Four Seasons, which is ubiquitous beyond belief: The opening notes of “Spring” float above wedding processions, year after year; the swells of “Summer” and the tumult of “Winter” have been perennial favorites of ad breaks and movie soundtracks for nearly a century. Diddy apparently has called “Spring” his theme music.

The Four Seasons has been recorded hundreds if not thousands of times, and a 2012 “recomposition” by Max Richter is among the most widespread. His “Spring 1” is frequently synced on television: It has appeared as a wonderfully deployed leitmotif in the HBO adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend; soundtracking the horny, Regency-era melodramas of Bridgerton; and loop-de-looping around shots of avant-garde meals in Chef’s Table. Richter’s version of The Four Seasons bears the mark of much of the London composer’s work, which brings certain postmodern values to the canon. Framing his project as a “conversation” with Vivaldi rather than another re-recording, he threw out three quarters of the original material, kept what he liked best, rewrote the score, and used looping techniques to make these staid sounds seem unfamiliar and new again.

“We hear [The Four Seasons] everywhere—when you’re on hold, you hear it in the shopping center, in advertising; it’s everywhere,” Richter told NPR. “For me, the record and the project are trying to reclaim the piece, to fall in love with it again.” A decade later, he has returned to The Four Seasons with the hopes of making it anew one more time. Working with the violinist Elena Urioste and the musicians of Chineke! Orchestra, Richter’s The New Four Seasons uses period instruments, gut strings, and vintage analog synthesizers to achieve what he hopes is a “grittier, more punk rock sound.”

Rather than grittier, though, the surface of The New Four Seasons seems even shinier, encasing each movement in chrome and stardust: The opening seconds of “Spring 0” are melodramatic, the celestial synths seemingly designed to give the song a second life as material for PBS documentaries on the cosmos. The creepy artificial glow of “Autumn 2” might be meant to evoke a mix of dread and longing in an indie drama. The frothy rush of “Summer 3” will surely be used in a luxury electric car commercial someday soon. Yet discerning the differences between the decade-old version and this new one is tricky: Neither rougher in texture nor wildly different in its structure, The New Four Seasons sounds a lot like the old one.

If Richter’s 2012 recomposition was about bringing the past into the present, there is a sense that on The New Four Seasons Richter is applying a software update, one that hums in the background, adding features you are told are essential, but that otherwise are frictionless and out of sight. The 2012 recomposition reimagined what was once familiar, but without going back to the drawing board, The New Four Seasons merely returns to the familiar. Worse, it risks becoming forgettable.

Still, there are moments when Richter delivers on his goal of transforming what might once have registered as “smooth, pleasant, and slightly nauseating,” as Alex Ross wrote of the classic concertos broadcast on American drive-time classical radio, into objects of the future, flexible and fluid enough to be whatever we want them to be in whatever moments they are needed. 

This is truest of his “Spring 1,” which carries with it shape-shifting powers, capable of evoking joy and pain in equal measure. Heard side by side, his decade-old recording and the new one carry minor but perceptible differences; the newer version is more action-oriented, faster paced and less serene. Here, we see the grittier Vivaldi Richter hoped to discover, reminding us of the earth and soil, wind and rain, the very weather The Four Seasons was meant to mimic and honor.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Max Richter - The New Four Seasons - Vivaldi Recomposed Music Album Reviews Max Richter - The New Four Seasons - Vivaldi Recomposed Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Thursday, June 23, 2022 Rating: 5

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