Daily Bow: Max Richter and Classical Remix

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Composer Max Richter Remixes Vivaldi for DG Release

One of the most interesting trends of classical music in the 21st century has been the gradual blurring of the line between popular art and high art. In the last century it was almost always easy to see this distinction: Schoenberg and Webern were not part of the cabaret; Boulez and Penderecki were writing nothing that anyone would confuse with the latest Beatles album. Contemporary composers, however, have a much more populist streak. This is particularly evident in the way they think and about and approach their music. There are composers like Mason Bates, who is a DJ at night clubs in his spare time , who have made huge strides in brining electronics into the orchestra, using their experience in pop music to change their symphonic compositions immensely. And just how can electronics and other technology be applied to that art form we call classical music?

You can remix Vivaldi.

That’s what the composer Max Richter has done for his latest album release titled RECOMPOSED by Max Richter: The Four Seasons. The album is just what it sounds like. Richter takes Vivaldi’s piece, known the world over as one of the most popular violin concertos of all time, and remixes it, recomposes it into an entirely new form. He keeps the general feel of the melody and harmonic structure, but admits that majority of the original notes have been dropped for something by him. Listen to him explain the process in this intriguing video:


With a DG recording and a concert earlier this week at the Barbican, in London, it would seem that Richter’s approach to composing has been validated. But there is still debate about what he’s done here. Is it his own work, or is he just exploiting Vivaldi for his own success? Does classical remix add something new to a piece or dose it create an entirely new work? On one hand, people argue that composers have been stealing from each other for centuries, and this is just Richter’s musical borrowing filtered through a modern lens. Others disagree, saying that Richter has robbed the Vivaldi for its popularity, using just enough to attract a listener’s attention, but then cutting off the original before it can make its full argument. What do you think? Take a listen for yourself and comment below!

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