Front Row

Max Richter In Concert: Reimagining VivaldiQ2

Can't take another moment of Vivaldi's ubiquitous Four Seasons? Neither could Max Richter, a London-based composer who deftly blurs the lines between the classical and electronic worlds. Long ago he loved it the piece but like some of us, he grew tired of the overplayed warhorse, which can be found in no fewer than 250 recordings on sites like ArchivMusic.

So instead of writing off the piece forever, Richter rewrote it. He discarded about three quarters of Vivaldi's original, substituted his own music and tucked in some light electronics for a total Four Seasons makeover. It sounds a little hipper — lighter on its feet in places, darker and more cinematic in others. Still, Richter's remodeled version retains the basic shape, and much of the spirit, of the master's original four violin concertos — each about ten minutes and in three movements, sequenced fast-slow-fast.

Richter recorded his rejiggered Seasons with violin soloist Daniel Hope and together they brought the project to (Le) Poisson Rouge, the Greenwich Village music space, where we had our cameras set up and ready to roll.

In Richter's reimagining, you'll recognize more than a few weather-related signposts like the violin's shivering figures in "Winter" and bolts of thunder in stormy "Summer." Yet in other places the music is heavily disguised. The cheerful birdsong that opens Vivaldi's "Spring" emerges as mere shards of the original, backed by moody pedal points in the electronic low end, lending it a movie music feel. And Vivaldi's violin horn calls in the finale of "Autumn" morph into a comforting minimalist blanket of warm double basses and electronics.

The revamped Vivaldi is about as "classical" as Richter gets. For a taste of his more electronic side, the second half of this concert features selections from Infra, dance music he wrote for London's Royal Ballet, based on T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land. For this music, Richter pares down to just a piano, his laptop and a string quartet, but he weaves in many unusual sounds. Here you'll find a dusty treasure-trove of old shortwave radio signals, industrial rumbles, clicks and pops serving as the underlying bed for Richter's gritty and forlorn soundscapes.

Program:
  • Vivaldi: The Four Seasons (Recomposed by Max Richter)
  • Music from Infra

Ensemble LPR, Tito Muñoz, conductor

[+] read more[-] less

More From Classical

Ludovico Einaudi, performing live for KCRW. Larry Hirshowitz/KCRW hide caption

toggle caption Larry Hirshowitz/KCRW

Favorite Sessions

Ludovico Einaudi, 'Petricor' (Live)

KCRW

Watch the pianist and composer, joined by a full band, in a stunning live performance for KCRW.

Opera singer Joyce DiDonato created this video to go with her new album, In War and Peace: Harmony through Music. Warner Classics hide caption

toggle caption Warner Classics

Music

In Chaotic Times, A Singer's Plea For Freedom

Opera star Joyce DiDonato's new video depicts a woman trapped in conflict.

Genard Ptah Blair dances to Carolina Eyck's music in a magical video directed by Sonia Malfa. Sonia Malfa hide caption

toggle caption Sonia Malfa

All Songs TV

Get Lost In Carolina Eyck's Ethereal Garden

A magical landscape, a theremin and an elastic dancer offer an innocent escape from a hectic world.

A still from Maya Beiser's "Air" video. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

All Songs TV

First Watch: Maya Beiser, 'Air'

In a new video, the cellist reflects on her childhood and the timelessness of J.S. Bach's music.

Yuja Wang played a demanding program at Carnegie Hall, topped by four encores. Ebru Yildiz/for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Ebru Yildiz/for NPR

Carnegie Hall Live

Yuja Wang Plays Carnegie Hall

WQXR radio

Hear one of today's most charismatic pianists tackle the toughest sonata Beethoven could muster.

Yuja Wang Plays Carnegie Hall

Audio is no longer available

Conductor Mariss Jansons led the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall Wednesday in Shostakovich's Symphony No. 7, "Leningrad." AJ Wilhelm for NPR hide caption

toggle caption AJ Wilhelm for NPR

Carnegie Hall Live

The 'Leningrad' Symphony At Carnegie Hall

WQXR radio

Mariss Jansons leads the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Shostakovich's wartime epic.

The 'Leningrad' Symphony At Carnegie Hall

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/474662768/475125195" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Michael Mizrahi channels the harpsichord in new music by Troy Herion. Eno Swinnen/Courtesy of the Artist hide caption

toggle caption Eno Swinnen/Courtesy of the Artist

All Songs TV

First Watch: Michael Mizrahi, 'Harpsichords'

Pianist Michael Mizrahi channels old school harpsichord music in a new piece by Troy Herion.

Music director Iván Fischer leading an Budapest Festival Orchestra concert at Carnegie Hall in New York Thursday. A.J. Wilhelm for NPR hide caption

toggle caption A.J. Wilhelm for NPR

Carnegie Hall Live

Budapest Festival Orchestra Plays Carnegie Hall

Iván Fischer conducts a Liszt piano concerto with soloist Marc-André Hamelin.

Budapest Festival Orchestra Plays Carnegie Hall

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/466299701/467669984" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Lawrence Brownlee performs with pianist Jason Moran in the active crypt below the historic Church of the Intercession in Harlem. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Field Recordings

Singing For Life In A Crypt In Harlem

Opera singer Lawrence Brownlee joins jazz pianist Jason Moran in an old spiritual.

Back To Top