Max Richter
The Blue Notebooks Fat Cat http://www.tinymixtapes.comsites/default/files/arton5318_0.jpg

[Fat Cat; 2004]

Rating: 4/5 4 / 5 (0)

Styles: modern classical, orchestral, melodic
Others: Arvo Pärt, Craig Armstrong, Philip Glass


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In some regards, the acceptance of Fat Cat Records' new classical offshoot, 130701 says a lot about modern listeners coming full-circle with their tastes in music. After exposing electronic music and rediscovering hip-hop in the '90s, digging deep to find obscure gems from the '60s, '70s, '80s, and now with our current interest in noise and avant-garde music, it comes as little shock to find modern classical music up for a revival. Artists such as John Cage, Morton Feldman, and Steve Reich are being canonized for their extensive bodies of work, and lesser known composers are finding new outlets for their music.

German-born, British-based pianist/composer Max Richter finds himself at the forefront of this interest with the release of his second album, The Blue Notebooks. It's a hauntingly beautiful collection of eleven tracks that combine cinematic ambiance, subtle melodies, and minimal electronic atmospherics. It's also interspersed with readings from Franz Kafka's The Blue Octavo Notebooks.

Elements of electronic music pepper the album and add a subtle edge to what is largely a beautiful, melodic collection of classical pieces. Boards of Canada-esque synths and piano chords that are reminiscent of Moby's earlier work add new dimensions on "Shadow Journal" and "Iconography;" two of the finest tracks on this mostly strong collection. Richter's compositions would not be out of place on the big screen as there is a strong sense that the movie could double as a score.

The Blue Notebooks is mainly string- and piano-based, with a small collection of performers. The best example of the album might be on the excellent "The Trees," where the strings swell in tandem while the piano plays faster until finally reaching a crescendo. It is the ability of Richter to compose pieces that are subtle, yet at times, swell to grandiose levels that make this release such a beautiful example of modern classical music.

1. The Blue Notebooks
2. On The Nature Of Daylight
3. Horizon Variations
4. Shadow Journal
5. Iconography
6. Vladimir's Blues
7. Arboretum
8. Old Song
9. Organum
10. The Trees
11. Written On The Sky
 

1. The Blue Notebooks
2. On The Nature Of Daylight
3. Horizon Variations
4. Shadow Journal
5. Iconography
6. Vladimir's Blues
7. Arboretum
8. Old Song
9. Organum
10. The Trees
11. Written On The Sky