Max Richter: The Blue Notebooks (2018)
Max Richter‘s second album The Blue Notebooks (40’36”) was first heard on broadcasts of STAR’S END shortly after it was released in 2004. From the first listen it was felt that here was a work with enough cinematic scale to warrant a film of its own. Almost 15 years onward we find that music from this album has indeed been used to great effect in a number of television and movie releases. The composition On the Nature of Daylight may be found as part of soundtracks for Arrival, The Innocents, The Face of an Angel and Shutter Island. No less than four versions of this piece may be found on the Deutsche Grammophon two CD re-issue of The Blue Notebooks: the album version, an orchestral version, a slightly more textural entropy mix, and finally a version which ingeniously integrates Dinah Washington’s moving vocal from her 1959 song This Bitter Earth (which closes out the seven tracks found on this edition’s 30+ minute bonus disc). The Blue Notebooks also presents readings from Franz Kafka and Czeslaw Milosz by actor Tilda Swinton – interspersed amongst movements of delicate piano, booming pipe organ and weeping string ensemble, and often embedded within the sounds of a typewriter in use and environmental recordings. Visceral and dreamlike in its sonic power Richter’s work embodies a bold assertion of humanity, in a desolate, empty land that seeks forever to blot it out. In his enthusiasm for the forces that bind us together we hear an open heart. Effortlessly elegant, with a raw vulnerability The Blue Notebooks makes us believe in things we have long forgotten. We must hope to be worthy of the grace the composer of this work has received.