Max Richter will be making a stop at Cal Performances this Friday night on a tour with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble, exploring music that he wrote inspired by politics and world events. The Blue Notebooks, which includes texts written by Franz Kafka, was composed in the run up to the Iraq War, and Infra was for a dance that was in part inspired by the London terrorist attacks of July 7, 2005.
There’s more information at the Cal Performances website.
His projects seem to attract attention: a “recomposing” of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons from a few years ago re-imagined the work in a kind of dreamlike minimalism; an eight hour performance of music specifically written to be listened to by an audience that was going to sleep. But for this concert, Max Richter, with musicians from the American Contemporary Music Ensemble, will be performing works from more than a decade past. “To revisit older works is to… in a way to rediscover them. And every performance is unique, so you’re always setting out on a journey at the beginning of the evening. And every audience is unique, so it’s fascinating to just kind of navigate that space and to discover how the music works in that moment on that day.” Excerpts from Kafka’s ‘Blue Octavo Notebooks’ provide the spoken texts for his The Blue Notebooks, which he says “was written in 2003, in response really to the political situation around the Iraq invasion. For me at the time, I had a feeling that politics was turning into a branch of fiction writing. And I wanted to make a piece which sort of looked at that. I felt like Kafka, with his kind of use of the absurd, had a lot to say to that situation, so I chose those texts of his. And then, fast forward whatever it is, 15 years, it felt like we were moving into a new phase of that sort of politics, where, you know, facts don’t matter so much anymore. And so I wanted to, yeah, play the Blue Notebooks again for that reason.” Infra was also inspired by literature: T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, as well as the 7/7 attacks. “It talks about the City, the travelers in the City. Eliot’s poem kind of hovers behind it, and also various other kinds traveling music sort of buried in it. Schubert’s Winterreise is in there, and all sorts of things. It’s a piece about people on a journey, and what happens to them, really.”