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Sounds and Visions Session Four

BBCSO: Ives, Berio, Richter + Colin Currie: Reich

Max Richter looking downwards

BBCSO, Andre de Ridder and Colin Currie Group lead us through a meditation on some of Richter’s most important influences, before the London premiere of his 2017 piece Three Worlds (from Woolf Works).

At one point during Berio’s Sinfonia, the narrator declares there’s ‘nothing more restful than chamber music’. It’s a wry comment – this concert is anything but. Musicians are dotted around the Hall for Ives’s enveloping The Unanswered Question. The Colin Currie Group perform Tehillim – Reich’s blend of minimalist style and ancient Hebrew texts – with Synergy Vocals. Then there’s Sinfonia, Berio’s reimagining of the symphony as collage, featuring fragments of Beckett, and quotes of composers from Bach to Boulez, performed here with Roomful of Teeth and conducted by Andre de Ridder.

This intertextual approach to composition is something Richter shares with Berio – who he studied with in Italy. It’s evident in his reworking of Vivaldi in Recomposed; in his use of Kafka texts for The Blue Notebooks; and it’s on display tonight in Three Worlds. Richter conjures the spirit of Virginia Woolf’s novels, setting the only known recording of the author’s voice amid an electroacoustic soundscape.

Running times

7pm Colin Currie Group Reich Tehillim

7.40pm Interval

8.20pm BBC Symphony Orchestra Ives The Unanswered Question, Berio Sinfonia 

9pm Interval

9.30pm BBC Symphony Orchestra Richter Three Worlds


black and white photo of max in the studio

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album cover of Steve Reich's Tehellim

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Barbican Hall