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Max Richter Prepares for U.S. Tour / Wall Street Journal

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If Mozart could have popped into a few cafés, circa 1789, to perform some of his hits, it would be a little like what composer Max Richter is up to this month. Mr. Richter is heading to Los Angeles, New York and Knoxville, Tenn., to perform compositions that have established him as a force on the contemporary orchestral music scene, including his soundtrack for Damon Lindelof's HBO series "The Leftovers,"  his popular 2004 album "The Blue Notebooks" and "Memoryhouse," his first album.

Not keen to be "sitting in the studio 24-7," Mr. Richter is renewed by being onstage. "The thing about performing is that you learn so much more about the music," he said. "Putting it in front of people, you're experiencing the world at real time." Based in Berlin, he's in New York for a recording session prior to performances at L.A's El Rey Theatre on March 22nd, New York's Le Poisson Rouge on March 25th and 26th, then to Knoxville's Big Ears Music Festival on March 28th and 29th. Mr. Richter has played Le Poisson Rouge previously: In 2012, he released a radically recomposed version of Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" in which he reworked the instrumentation and tempos to make the overplayed piece of Baroque music sound entirely new. The recording called for fiendishly fast playing from violin soloist Daniel Hope.

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