IN his contributions to the National Theatre of Scotland’s international smash Black Watch and Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, post-classical composer Max Richter evokes profound tragedy and unease. However, even in such darkness his work can radiate a beauty so shimmering it blanks out despair. So it is with Three Worlds, Richter’s take on Mrs Dalloway, Orlando and The Waves, three novels by Virginia Woolf, born 136 years ago this week.

Electro-acoustic duo Strange Rainbow were a fine choice of support act. Like the Edinburgh-trained Richter and Woolf herself, clarsach-player Catriona McKay and laptop musician Alistair MacDonald are storytellers; makers of, they say, “imaginary worlds where the familiar dissolves into the unfamiliar”.

Richter has long played with that idea, and this, an exclusive Celtic Connections pairing of his ensemble with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, conducted by the globally-acclaimed Robert Ziegler, is a transcendent triumph.

Introduced with the only known recording of Woolf’s voice, the flowing Mrs Dalloway shares the elegant, existential dread of the novel, while the surging, Baroque-inspired Orlando – here teamed with dazzling lighting theatrics – emphasises that book’s sci-fi elements. Woolf’s death hangs over final movement The Waves, which features a moving solo from SCO cellist Su-a Lee and the author’s last words to her beloved Leonard, read here by actress Gillian Anderson.

Richter’s prioritising of emotionality over formal edginess is perhaps why some remain resistant to him. There is, after all, a somehow reassuring tone to On the Nature of Daylight, which features in Denis Villeneuve’s recent sci-fi film Arrival. That sublime 2004 piece was performed as an encore after a standing ovation, the Royal Concert Hall a sea of wide grins. A little reassurance, a glint of hope: these too can be worthwhile things.