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4.2 out of 5 stars36
4.2 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 August 2010
This is my favourite Max Richter album, for the simple reason that there is a greater consistency and overall integration of the individual pieces, than on his other albums. The rising/falling keening refrain is classic Richter, achieved by a combination of warmly luscious piano chords, the plaintive, yearning tones of violin/viola, and an unobtrusive string backdrop, and lodges in the head and heart long after you've listened to it. It is unashamedly emotional music, steeped in unfulfilled longing, and delivered in luscious, rich textures. Given its direct appeal to the heart, its music to fall in love with very quickly. Perhaps the only downside to all of this is that over-indulgence can lead to the necessity to limit your exposure (as with rich chocolate cake?), as too much richness can prove cloying. Once you've explored Richter's various albums, or want to explore something new and more adventurous, try Gorecki's 3rd Symphony on Naxos Górecki - Symphony No 3; Olden Style Pieces Harold Budd's 'Abandoned Cities' The Serpent (in Quicksilver) / Abandoned Cities or Karaindrou: Ulysses' Gaze Original Soundtrack [SOUNDTRACK] What a wonderful sound world is waiting out there!
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on 23 February 2011
I came across Max Richter accidentally when my son left The Blue Notebooks CD in my car. This hooked me immediately with its uncanny ability to relax me and help my mind meander off in interesting and unexpected directions. I subsequently bought several of his other albums, including this one. All are wonderful pieces of music which I have listened to again and again without tiring of them, but Memoryhouse is my favourite. In my mind it is the one that comes together most as a whole, and I particularly enjoy the variation created by the more dense orchestration in some use of the pieces in comparison to the other albums. Sarajevo for instance, builds to a wonderful, short, blast of emotion, before bringing you gently back down again, and Last Days just sweeps you away from the first few notes. It would not be wrong to say that my life has been enhanced by the accidental discovery of Mr Richter's wonderful musical gifts and I cannot recommend this album enough.
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on 4 February 2003
This is an album that starts from its cover. A railway line and station somewhere in Europe. Title "The Memory House." Black and white, bleak. My mother came from Austria. She lived under the occupation of the Russians and the first track invokes this bleakness rain and all. The poem, Russian? Moving, raising the emotions, what is she saying? What journey is the composer taking us on? So many unanswered questions.
This beautiful album became personal very quickly with its silky changing moods. The music is thought provoking. Be ready to grit your teeth. Let the music take you anywhere you want with its startling nuances. Listen for the Mahler drum! and when the journey is over take time to look at the photograph once more. A memory house; a museum for conversation. Truely some great music from Max Richter.
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on 14 April 2011
Max Richter - Memoryhouse (FatCat / 130701)
Originally released on the BBC's Late Junction label back in 2002, Max Richter's Memoryhouse is a collection of classical pieces, recorded with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. Fortunately (for me...) the feel and tone of these recordings can easily be compared to contemporary post-rock and will probably appeal to fans of both Phillip Glass and A Silver Mt. Zion, together with any number of bands more interested in layers of sound and atmosphere rather than the whole verse, chorus, verse malarkey.

The music on Memoryhouse is sometimes spacious and sparse, and at other times quite dense, though thoroughly accessible throughout. Richter may not be interested in tunes to be whistled but he never forgets to involve the listener, whether through huge, soaring passages or the tiniest of details. I like it a lot. 9/10.
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on 25 June 2002
This album defies categorisation. It breaks down the barriers between genres and should simply be classified as great music. In this respect Max Richter should be considered along side the likes of Nitin Sawhney. There are moments in this album where I found myself moved to tears as in the extraordinary track Sarajevo which builds and builds until the full tragedy of that war torn city seemed to leap out and enfold me. Some tracks wash over you like a refreshing stream a bit like the best Cafe Del Mar chill out albums and then there's the kind of stuff that you might find in a tense pacy thriller; film makers would die for it.
Memoryhouse comes from the soul, and it certainly stirs the soul when you listen to it. The more you play it the deeper it seems to go. It's my favourite new album and well worth buying.
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on 26 June 2004
Brings tears to my eyes - is the photo of one of the stations serving a concentration camp? It could be.
It is bleak, moving and unforgettable. When I heard part of it on the radio for the first time it gave me one of those 'what IS that?' moments. Only ever had that twice before: with Verdi's requiem and one particular piece of Bach.
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on 7 February 2005
I have been searching for weeks to obtain a copy of Max Richter's "Memoryhouse". I thought "The Blue Notebooks" was a stunning CD, and I can't understand why the label Late Junction would not have the smarts to market "Memoryhouse" hot on the heels of the success of Richter's second album. It is highly unfortunate that this CD has been discontinued after less than 3 years in release. I hope someone comes to their senses and re-releases this much neglected album.
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on 25 November 2009
Finally re-released with new but sympathetic artwork, this brings this profoundly moving piece of work back into the affordable mainstream.
Check out the reviews on Amazon for the original release. It is difficult to add anything that hasn't already been said.
At first listening you'd think this originated in Iceland ala Einaudi but it doesn't. This is expansive music, more conventionally classical than say 'postcards'. Almost a film score in overall feel, the longer pieces allow the music to develop fully whilst remaining dense but at the same time minimilistic.
Bleak and haunting but never less than beautiful. I cannot recommend this enough. It is the soundtrack to European history and at this price it is an essential purchase for lovers of grown up music.
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on 5 October 2015
It is reassuring to see so many excellent reviews of this work, with which I generally agree. However people should also be pointed in the direction of his other works, which also show his huge talent and musical powers. Memoryhouse immediately felt to me like a film score for a film that had yet to be made, probably involving someone retracing their complex family origins through the places of a war-torn Europe (see his film scores in fact for Elle s'appelait Sarah, and very recently Testament of Youth). Other outstanding compositions include: Sleep (an 8-hr piece), From Sleep (c. 1 hr on CD), 24 Postcards, The Congress, Infra, Songs from Before, Waltz with Bashir, etc., etc. Max Richter is an immense talent and I am really looking forward to his next compositions.
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on 2 April 2009
The theme for this album is the 20th century. As a measure of its emotive power, consider that it was used for the soundtrack to the highly-acclaimed BBC documentary about Auschwitz (Auschwitz - The Nazis And The Final Solution [DVD]), and you'll get an idea of the melancholic potency of Max Richter's debut solo album "Memory House".

I can't recommend this album enough, it's a masterpiece of contemporary classical composition, and in my opinion, Richter's finest release to date.

Max Richter is a contemporary German composer who studied classical composition and piano at the University of Edinburgh. He describes his style of music as "post-classical". "Memory House" was performed by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.
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