MRinfra
“Spellbinding…Based on Eliot’s The Waste Land, Infra is a journey in 13 episodes, emerging from a blur of static and finding its way in a repeated phrase that grows in loveliness.”
The Independent
“Languorously transcendent.” The Guardian
23 JUNE 2017 (Toronto, ON) – Max Richter’s Infra started when the composer received a phone call from choreographer Wayne McGregor, in search of a score for a dance work for the Royal Ballet. “It’s twenty-five minutes … and that’s it,” he said. That was enough to unlock Richter’s creative imagination, opening the door to one of his most elegiac works. Human relationships and the realities of city life lived below the radar of attention were central to McGregor’s concept. The piece also grew out of themes of alienation and isolation from T.S. Eliot’s multi-layered modernist poem The Waste Land.
“Wayne’s call was like a bolt from the blue,” Richter recalls. “It was a joy to collaborate with him. I’m always fascinated to discover how other people view what I’m doing, because my own perspective is so subjective.” Their short ballet achieved critical acclaim at the time of its premiere in 2008, but Richter was not yet done with Infra – he returned to its ideas and produced enough new material for a full-length album.
Infra contains five meditative ‘Journeys’, brief moments of transition, and eight longer ‘Infra’ movements. The work’s chosen title, Latin for ‘below’, inspired Max Richter to imagine submerged melodies and surround them with counterpoints of electronic and acoustic sounds. Deep bass drones, outbreaks of Morse code and the signals and noise of radio waves permeate the score, serving notice of things buried, overlooked, forgotten, strong emotions and latent memories among them. The haunting power of memory, as so often in Richter’s music, arises throughout Infra, clearly present in its recurring string tunes and hypnotic accompaniments, never totally buried in its sublime ‘Journey’ episodes.
“When I came back to work on the piece as an album, I felt there was a different dynamic trying to get out,” notes the composer. “It felt like it wanted to grow a bit. The music evolved into a piece almost twice the length of the stage ballet; it was a pleasure to take another trip through the material and find another way for it to live. I started to find new things there that I wanted to explore more fully. It’s like turning a bit of sculpture in your hands to get different perspectives on the material. It’s one of the most exciting things when material starts to take on its own life. Creative material does do that – it wants to find its own direction, its own life. It happened when I returned to Infra.”
Since 2008, Richter and McGregor have worked together on a range of projects, most recently the highly successful ballet triptych Woolf Works (2015) which, like Infra, was premiered by the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden. Stemming from Richter’s original full-length score is his latest DG album, Three Worlds: Music from Woolf Works, it too a homage to Virginia Woolf and a compelling exploration of time and memory (released January 2017).
“Max has led a revolution in contemporary classical music,” comments Dr Clemens Trautmann, President Deutsche Grammophon. “There’s something elemental about his work, something that touches deep emotions in listeners of all backgrounds. He is among those rare composers who transcend boundaries between different genres. His music, whether for the stage, concert hall or film, reaches out to people and tells essential truths about what it is to be human.”
Key tracks from Infra, The Blue Notebooks, Songs from before, 24 Postcards in full colour and Memoryhouse helped raise Richter’s international profile, commanding extensive radio airplay and finding their way into an array of film and television soundtrack scores. Infra is set for release on Deutsche Grammophon/Universal Music  Canada, the country’s leading music company, on 30 June 2017.

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