MAX RICHTER – HENRY MAY LONG (MUTE SONG INTL, 2009)

To use the adjective “beautiful” in a review of an album of classical music isn’t even trying, worse it can turn into a pejorative phrase if over used. So, I am going to assume that you, the reader, know that most classical music is pretty. And if you are familiar with the three neo-classical contemporaries of Mr. Richter in the For section you are somewhat aware of the game plan. Melodies built around simple musical phrases on piano or cello that prop up the rest of the album proper as a sort of minimalist spring board, that the melodies return to before ascending higher. Max Richter is simply one of the best, leading the vanguard of talented neo-classical muscians who take quiet and complex music seriously. Henry May Long is a soundtrack for a movie that is ridiculously hard to find, I mean if you can’t find it on netflix it doesn’t exist right? What I have read about it is that it is a “proper” English parlor drama about an ailing young man and a friend who takes advantage of him. Why do the basest of human emotions inspire some of the most beautiful music? “The Reader”, God help us, inspired some of Nico Muhly’s most beautiful passages. Henry May Long consists of several short pieces built around and upon the central fugue of the opening track “Ocean House Mirror”. A delicate and intricate piano ballad of repeating movements that mark a large majority of the album. Most are snippets that accompany scenes from the film, small snapshots into what I can imagine is a fully fleshed out extension of the lush music. It is nice to see Max Richter return to form after a delightful experiment of 24 Postcards in Full Colour it is nice to see that his classical sensibilities never left. Another proving point that classical music isn’t for NPR or dead white men.

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