Fenella Humphreys / Ben Palmer / Covent Garden Sinfonia

Max Richter: The Four Seasons Recomposed

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The post-minimalist music of composer Max Richter has gained strong popularity in Britain and elsewhere, and no work has been more popular than The Four Seasons Recomposed. This 2012 work came along when the great vogue for performances of Vivaldi's Four Seasons violin concertos was waning, but Richter came up with an entirely new idea. It's not so much a recomposition, but a sort of fantasy on Vivaldi that retains his basic thematic material, and layers it over with music derived from that. Much of it is generated by the popular electronic musical techniques of looping and phasing, though everything is written out and played on the conventional instruments of the Covent Garden Sinfonia under Ben Palmer. Violin soloist Fenella Humphreys gets the thankless task of playing the straight Vivaldi, but her performance is lively: here and in the two minimalist landmarks that round out the program, Arvo Pärt's Fratres and Peteris Vasks' The Lonely Angel, she opts for a full-throated virtuosity rather than the dispassion with which minimalist violin music is often played. This sets up a subtle contrast that's all to the good. In all, this is an appealing collection that should appeal to those looking for a starting point for Richter's music.

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