Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is still a high volume of parcels and longer delivery times (overseas shipments are currently transported by sea freight – transit time is more than 30 days).
His works tend to be derived from concepts he feels warrant wider attention, described by Richter as a “definite social purpose” for his creativity, aiming “to tell stories that ‘speak’ and pose questions, and take the listener on a journey”, said the 51-year old.
“I’m aiming to explore how the brain can be a space for music to inhabit when our consciousness is on holiday”. Composing Sleep involved Richter working closely with the American neuroscientist David Eagleman.
“Sleep avoids the ‘high notes’, nothing above a couple of hundred hertz. This reflects the acoustic environment of a foetus in the uterus”, explained Richter to the editor of ZEIT magazine: “There are about 40 beats per minute, which is a very gentle resting pulse.” The reverberations in the recording are reminiscent of how music sounds when we are falling asleep. “Slow descending diatonic scales gently carry us into the realm of alpha, delta and theta waves. The work, which contains over 30 different variations, is a bed of sound into which the stressed can sink without hesitation. Richter follows in the footsteps of Johann Sebastian Bach, who in 1741 wrote his Goldberg Variations for a sleepless Count.
The availability of this quite unique stream of a singular work is not intended to be consumed as a ’sleep aid‘ but as an accompaniment to the whole ritual of the preparation and awakening and what lies between. The music is “so gentle and trance-inspiring that you cannot prevent yourself from falling into a state of relaxation”, commented the generally prosaic Wall Street Journal.
The international success of the work shows just how right Richter was with Sleep. Along with The Blue Notebooks (the ground-breaking album which itself will be released in May 2018 in an expanded reissue), his adaptation of Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ and his recent ballet work Three Worlds – Music from Woolf Works, Sleep is the British composer’s most famous opus.
With his magnum opus, Max Richter has realised mankind’s most modern dream: to find a place away from the noise and enjoy some simple tranquillity.