Max Richter and “Post-Classical”

For some reason, classical music was something that I never found myself particulary involved with. Sure, I don’t mind songs from the likes of Beethoven to Tchaikovsky, but I find myself growing impatient with some of the material though I do think the genre will eventually grow like fine wine on me, with several songs already making an impact. Max Richter is considered a German composer, though I do not see his elements streching far from post-rock and electronica, with acts such as World’s End Girlfriend or even early DJ Shadow being comparable to several songs. That isn’t to say Richter’s style is not unique or beautiful. Even while the general classical instruments are used, Richter also incorporates samples such as falling rain, melancholic synth pads, or vocal cuts. This is how he defines his music as “Post-Classical”, which would obviously turn out to be a mix between post-rock/electronia and classical music, which would be a fairly accurate way of describing it. His release in 2004, The Blue Notebooks, was very enjoyable as a showcase of Richter’s talent. His new album, Songs From Before, releases on October 16th and is his third album.

The highlights that I am finding on his new album are the songs that are mainly straightforward and direct. ‘Autumn Music 1’ is a sweeping piano ballad that applies a deliberate but effective method of capturing emotion, while ‘Sunlight’ uses the same form of style except while executing several layers of strings. ‘Sunlight’ is my favorite song on the new album, as the melody eventually becomes glued in your head. Richter’s style is distinctly German as far as mood goes, as several of the songs contain some heavy elements of melancholy. The songs incorporating synths sometimes carry a melody for a bit too long, with no build-up to show for it, such as the boring ‘Harmonium’ or the overlong ‘Flowers For Yulia’. The opening song ‘Song’ manages to pull it off though, as it begins the album with a very nice impression if the listener is patient and appreciative enough. Though the album is a nice effort with several beautiful songs, it does not manage to match the quality of The Blue Notebooks.


Max Richter – Autumn Music 1



Max Richter – Sunlight



Max Richter – Song



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Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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1 Comment

  1. This sounds pretty good. Incidentally, I think memoryhouse was a much better album than The Blue Notebooks. Just my 2¢.

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