Arrangements of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons are as many as they are diverse and you won’t have trouble finding versions for musette, flute, recorder, electric guitar ensemble or jazz trio. But few match the unashamedly beautiful, ambient, post-minimalist, post-rock “remix” by British composer Max Richter.
A student of Berio, Richter is a stylistic magpie whose music is accessible yet inventive and thought-provoking. Picking up on Vivaldi’s love of pattern and repetition, Richter has “recomposed” around three-quarters of Vivaldi’s original using looping and phasing effects and synths. The driving pulse and rhythms of contemporary dance music are also referenced.
But don’t let any of that frighten you off – listening to Richter’s haunting, powerful work will leave you wanting to go back to the original with new ears. Under the deft, sympathetic fingers of soloist Daniel Hope and Konzerthaus Kammerorchester Berlin and the precise, flexible direction of André de Ridder, soaring melodies, lightning filigree passagework and rich, dark harmonic sequences shift and swell in sublime, melancholy weather patterns of the heart.
Spring begins with an “ambient” prelude, which fades to a profusion of birdsong as various motifs are taken up and set against gently blooming, sometimes throbbing bass-lines. Summer’s winds are shaken up by thrillingly intense loops of rhythmic passages. Autumn is haughty, fragile and fraught with chiaroscuro as light textures are contrasted with dark, while Winter is all syncopation, thumping basses, relentless ostinatos and ghostly, fervent harmonics. A surprisingly emotional experience – and one not to be missed.