Sunday, June 29, 2008

Max Richter at the Union Chapel

Max Richter is a hard musician to categorise, if he didn't use loops and samples he would one of the world's most enjoyable composers of modern classical music. But he does and therefore he kind of straddles that space between electronica, classical music and music as multimedia art performance.

He has a new album coming out and on Sunday there was a gig at Union Chapel to coincide with the release. Although a huge fan of Blue Notebooks and Songs From Before I have never had the chance to catch a live performance.

The support act was Johann Johannsson whom Amazon has been recommending to me for the last year. In this case Amazon is right, it is the kind of art noise meets string quartet experience I enjoy.

And then the sun began to set and a truely magical experience began. It was partly the light and atmosphere of the old church but it was mostly about beautiful music. A swooping, haunting melody that captures so many complex feelings. All of Max's releases have a concept and narrative that binds together the fragments of themes and individual pieces and the performance, though mixing music from four different releases, had the same sense of a journey through melancoly, stasis, loss and hope.

The performance was fantastic, with the playing matching the quality of the recording but adding an emotional feeling on top of the technical reproduction of the recorded sound. Everyone on stage seemed to be caught up in emotion of the music and everyone in the audience seemed rapt (rather than doing the normal London gig audience thing of talking incessantly).

It is truly the most amazing gig I have seen since I moved to London and is really one of the highlights of my life. I'd love to do it all again.