Friday, May 8, 2015

Max Richter's Mercy

Max Richter's a new kind of post-Modern composer. 

"Fusion" was a term coined a few decades ago to characterize the marriage of musical styles, rejecting the traditional divisions between classical, pop, jazz, folk, ethnic--in favor of hybrid compositions which were not clearly classifiable into one of those genres. 

Richter is a contemporary composer who essays a number of different styles, applied to various venues. His works range from straight concert pieces, to movie scores, stage, ballet, and even pop collaborations with small groups. I've listened to a number of his works on YouTube, and though I can't say I like them all, they display a facility which is impressive. Making a living as a composer has never been easy, so musicians like Richter are forced to live by their wits. 

All that aside, here's beautiful piece of his, considered "minimal" as a result of its modest lyrical range and brevity, entitled Mercy.  It could be something that Schumann might have composed, or Faur√©, or even Delius, yet it's somehow too "clean" for them. I think of it simply as pure music. It could be the middle section of a sonata for violin and piano, or the lyric for the slow section of a symphony. I'm not sure why, but it suggests to me a kind of elegy, say, for the dead of the Holocaust. A piece as beautiful as this comes directly from the heart.

Violin: Hilary Hahn
Piano: Cory Smythe  

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