RICHTER The Four Seasons: Recomposed

Richter reimagines Vivaldi’s ubiquitous concerto cycle

Author: 
Jed Distler

Richter_The Four Seasons: Recomposed

  • (The) Four Seasons (recomposed from Vivaldi's work)

Composers throughout history have revamped and updated earlier masterpieces in their own image. Here we have Max Richter’s recomposed version of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, which basically welds the original’s rhythmic and melodic patterns on to tediously repeating pop music or post-minimalist chord progressions. One can imagine most of Spring’s third movement having been put together on a computer via cutting and pasting, save for the heavier orchestration towards the end. Richter’s recomposed central movement for Winter reduces Vivaldi’s dancing lilt to wispy solo violin fragments over a bed of high-lying sustained strings. Autumn’s familiar first movement is subjected to witless rhythmic displacements that do little to illuminate or enhance the original text.

Violin soloist Daniel Hope and the Berlin Konzerthaus Chamber Orchestra turn in spotless performances of what amounts to a pleasant-sounding yet essentially faceless deconstruction of The Four Seasons, and one assumes that they’ve been well compensated for their efforts. Surely the considerable press and attention Richter has garnered hitching himself to Vivaldi’s bandwagon will reap profits aplenty before the novelty wears off. Note that DG has resurrected their original yellow label banner for the cover: is that a serious or an ironic gesture?

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