There’s a stillness to the lonely piano chords that open Max Richter’s Exiles , the centrepiece of his deeply moving new album, recorded by the Baltic Sea Philharmonic under the baton of Kristjan Järvi. Hazy strings become gentle undulations that evoke vast emptiness, a desolate landscape – or seascape. Richter wrote this music for a dance work, Singulière Odyssée , by choreographers Paul Lightfoot and Sol Léon. It’s the composer’s response to the humanitarian crisis that has seen millions of refugees flee Syria, thousands drowning in their attempt to make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea. 

Max Richter

Richter isn’t the first to tackle the subject of displaced peoples in music – Ludovico Einaudi’s Winter Journey and Cat Hope’s Speechless come to mind. But Richter’s output has long been interwoven with politics, such as the earlier works recorded alongside Exiles Flowers of Herself , The Haunted Ocean , Infra...