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Max Richter’s Sleep

Posted by Team APATA | Apr 1, 2021

“Richter is the architect of a post-minimalist electronic revolution at the borderlands of classical music”  –The ECONOMIST, 1843 MAGAZINE

“Richter works in a tone that is sincere and serious; many of his pieces could be described as beautiful. It’s a style at odds with the fashionable inscrutability of postmodernism.”  –LOS ANGELES TIMES

“No contemporary composer expresses the same complexity of emotion on screen as Max Richter, whose work pervades modern culture, from film to television to dance to theater.”  –THE ATLANTIC

Richter’s eight-hour composition for a sleeping audience meditative documentary has landed. Produced by Natalie Johns the documentary explores Richter’s work expressed across 204 movements featuring strings, synthesizers and a soprano designed to send audiences to sleep. Fascinating or perhaps hope for many seeking a good night’s sleep. The question – is this any different to the chill out sleep music we may have already be tuning into for relaxation and shut eye?

Richter’s body of work stands out on the contemporary music scene with credits listed from ground-breaking composer, pianist, and producer. From synthesizers and computers to a full symphony orchestra, Richter’s innovative work encompasses solo albums, ballets, concert hall performances, film and television series, video art installations and theatre works.  He is classically trained, studying at Edinburgh University, the Royal Academy of Music, London, and completing his studies with composer Luciano Berio in Florence.

The documentary primarily focuses on Richter’s Sleep performance-events conceived in collaboration with partner Yulia Mahr, a BAFTA-winning filmmaker. Audience members arrive at the concert in the evening, before being lulled into a dream-state by Richter (on the piano) and his band of musicians. They wake the next morning to find them still softly playing. The technical achievement of the composer, performers and organisers is undeniable.

Music if often used to regulate our emotions and moods. We might use music to keep pace in a gym workout, mark special occasions with celebratory tunes through to pumping up the volume with angry house cleaning music. Music listening behaviours also change over time. By inviting audiences to sleep through an entire concert, Richter and Mahr are doing the same, with interesting results.

The eight-hour lullaby is certainly an escape from the world’s hectic pace and may just support the passive state of unconsciousness you’ve been seeking to unwind and find well-being.

Natalie Johns weaves in Mahr’s personal archive and performance footage from Berlin, Sydney, and Paris to create a rich portrait of a shared artistic process, along with contributions that illuminate both the science and story behind the work.

Sleep is in cinemas and available on digital platforms from 11 September.

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