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Deutsche Grammophon reissues “Infra”, the most personal of Max Richter’s early albums.

In 2014 Max Richter signed with the prestigious record label Deutsche Grammophon. In addition to subsequent releases, the contract included the reissue of several of his most successful previous works, including 24 Postcards in Full Colour, Songs from Before and The Blue Notebooks, as well as an orchestral recording of Memoryhouse, which would appear in September of the same year.

These reissues also included one of his most important works, Infra, which had originally appeared in 2010 on FatCat Records. It was the album that marked the beginning of what is now considered Richter’s (Hamelin, Lower Saxony, 1966) signature style, born out of a collaboration with the British choreographer Wayne McGregor and the painter and visual artist Julian Opie – who developed a series of animated films for the show – for the Royal Ballet, premiered on 13 November 2008 at the Royal Opera House in London.

Infra‘s choreography was inspired by the moments of terror caused by the four bombs that Islamic terrorists detonated on London’s public transport system on 7 July 2005, the second largest terrorist attack in Europe after those of 11-M in Madrid in 2004. McGregor asked Richter for 25 minutes of music for the ballet, but after working on the music for the show, the musical ideas for Infra gave no respite to the German-born, British composer, who took up the work and produced a longer album, composed for piano, string quartet and electronics, which already contained Richter’s poetic sound language. Infra broadly follows the style of earlier albums such as The Blue Notebooks and Songs From Before, which, with their finely wrought miniatures, were exquisite creations, but sometimes too unflappable to be fully involving. But if until then one had the feeling that his melancholy was too easy, Infra appears to us as a mature work, capable of tracing the range of greys between the black and white of moods.

The work consists of five dreamlike movements – Journeys – and the eight parts of Infra proper, conceived as a search for hidden layers of sound. On the album, Max Richter combines electronic and acoustic sounds with classical-romantic string melodies and minimalist piano meditations. Morse signals or the hissing of radio waves can be heard. But as soon as one gets used to this modern sound poetry, one is transported into spheres of longing reminiscent of Franz Schubert’s Winterreise – Richter said that the idea of travel in Opie’s films of the show made him think of Schubert’s aforementioned masterpiece – as well as T.S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land.

Max Richter paves the way for the listener to immerse himself in an indulgent mood, to listen to his own soul and for feelings of reconciliation to emerge, despite all the melancholy it exudes.

© Photograph corresponding to the original cover of Max Richter’s album, taken by the artist Julian Opie.