Review Summary: I don't think two people could have been happier than we have been. V.
To be frank, I’ve had no knowledge of Max Richter until two weeks prior. I’ve no knowledge of Max Richter, the man; nor have I any knowledge of Max Richter, the composer. At moments, I feel like I’m out of my depth in this attempt to solve my own dilemma, but there are times when I come to the realization that I’m merely overselling the challenge that comes with covering an artist so foreign to oneself. This challenge is one I’m willing to take, with Richter’s recent work Three Worlds
being the focal point in my simplistic goal to progress as a writer. Upon first listen, the hour-long journey that Three Worlds
took me on was nothing short of emotional, but left a cold feeling as its presence departed from my thoughts. So I listened again…and again…and onward, but the cold embrace that was left with me upon the fading strains of the gargantuan 20-plus minute finale “Tuesday” always remained. It didn’t feel right, but even then it felt like there was something I was missing. In the hopes of gaining further understanding, I researched the purpose behind Richter’s sprawling composition, learning about its origin within the narrative dance piece that also happened to be this album’s subtitle – “Woolf Works”.
“Woolf Works”, sourced from novels by Virginia Woolf, came to be from choreographer Wayne McGregor’s decision to recruit Richter to soundtrack McGregor’s narrative. What resulted was a two hour-long, three act affair, but here, was truncated to an hour to create a more accessible work. The decision to streamline Richter’s score works quite surprisingly well as it allows for Richter’s ability to draw every single ounce of emotion out of his compositions without making it seem so overwrought. Throughout the hour, Three Worlds
and its atmosphere lure you into the realms of Woolf’s novels and what meaning they offer to the score itself. There are several moments when various spoken word segments are interspersed with the composition, one notable usage being the only recording of Woolf herself on “Word”, the introduction to the elaborate narrative. Along with the implementation of spoken word samples, there’s an increased inclusion of electronics throughout Three Worlds
, most notably on the lush minimalistic “Genesis of Poetry”. Ambiance seems to take precedence throughout Three Worlds
, especially as the score reaches its conclusion, opting to become more isolated and increasingly alien from its beginnings.
The penultimate work, "Love Songs", serves its purpose in significantly amplifying the tragedy of "Tuesday". In a matter of two minutes, it’s Virginia Woolf’s suicide note that brings the entire composition to a haunting stop. It’s here in the desolate ambiance of these two final pieces that Three Worlds
finally reveals itself to me, in the elegy for the deceased Woolf does this ultimately take hold of me. It’s here, that at last, I finally understand why
I’ve been left feeling cold by Three Worlds
. There are times when I listen to the final narrative and its ensuing dirge that I come to the realization that it was meant to be this way, that it isn’t supposed to be some kind of cathartic experience, but to experience something undeniably human
within the score’s cold, atmospheric aesthetic. Three Worlds
has a way of expressing its emotions without making it feel half-hearted, by extension making it so incredibly chilling to listen to, and it is in this very moment that I give in to its cold embrace at last. It shan't leave this time.