Three Worlds: Music from Woolf Works

Reviewed on Fri 02 Jun, 2017

There’s an engaging compositional intelligence at work here, in which telling detail, structure, narrative arc and tone are as important as emotional intent.

Distilled from his score for choreographer Wayne McGregor’s ‘Woolf Works’, staged by the Royal Ballet in 2015, ‘Three Worlds’ finds Max Richter in characteristically eclectic mood. His conjuring of three seminal novels by Virginia Woolf – ‘Mrs Dalloway’, ‘Orlando’ and ‘The Waves’ – calls upon evocative solo piano, ambient electronic oscillations, insistent string quintet, sung and spoken voice, and a now passionate, now pensive orchestra in various permutations, all seamlessly blended within his fresh, fluid, lyrical signature. There’s an engaging compositional intelligence at work here, in which telling detail, structure, narrative arc and tone are as important as emotional intent. What results is Ravelian in its pastel colouring, Debussy-like in its other-worldly innocence and altogether captivating. Younger converts to classical musical schooled in the more sophisticated exponents of electronic dance music such as Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada will find much to enjoy in the dream-like interiority of ‘Orlando’. In a word: immersive.
–Michael Quinn