TRCH Blood Brothers

Ludovico Einaudi

15 November 10 words: Aly Stoneman
One note from his piano is enough to reduce an entire audience to tears.
Einaudi’s music is meditative and introspective. Look it will just make you cry, ok!

Italian is said to be the language of love, but the music of Ludovico Einaudi is famous for evoking a range of emotions. Aly Stoneman braves the bitter cold of a Nottingham night to find out why…..

What is it about the music of Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi that can sell out Nottingham Theatre Royal on a Sunday evening in mid-November? It was a bitterly cold night and inside the theatre each round of tumultuous applause heralded a storm of coughing - but every seat was full.

Einaudi’s popularity in Nottingham might be related to the use of music from his 2007 album Divenire (‘to become’) on the soundtrack to Shane Meadows’ award winning film This Is England and the subsequent Channel 4 television series This Is England 86. At least one member of the cast is evidently a fan - LeftLion spotted Vicky McClure (Lol) heading into the Stalls. However, Einaudi has been rising to worldwide fame since the release of Le Onde in 1996, when he appeared for the first time as a solo artist, composing and playing his own music. Subsequently, he has toured the world, playing at a wide variety of venues from the Desert Festival in Africa to The Albert Hall.

Einaudi’s music is meditative and introspective, linking classical and international influences, new age harmonics and contemporary pop, but the power of his compositions is achieved through the combination of key changes, suspensions and variations in pace and volume that somehow taps into and interacts with the listener on an emotional level, with the piano always at the heart of the sound. It calls to mind the old bardic stories of musicians able to cause birds to cease singing in the trees or move their audience to tears with a single rippling chord. Online reviews of his performances and albums are rife with descriptions of the emotional impact of his music.

I previously saw Einaudi play at The Albert Hall in 2009, on tour with Nightbook. The composer brought together a six piece group combining the piano with strings, percussion and live electronics from Robert Lippok. However, I preferred Einaudi’s 2004 album Una Mattina, featuring only piano with an occasional cello accompaniment. For this reason, I was pleased that the performance on Sunday was part of a solo tour. All that occupied the stage was Ludovico Einardi and a Steinbeck grand piano.

Ludovico enjoys the freedom that solo concerts provide, so he doesn’t list in advance what he is going to play on the night. In fact, Einaudi performed music from several of his albums, including Nightbook, Una Mattina and Divenere. Between playing, he praised the ornate classical décor and acoustics of the 145 year-old Theatre Royal, and discussed the influences and inspiration for the music we had been listening to, including his response to the paintings of Giovanni Segantini.  He also explained the technicalities of recording sound from his piano onto a computer ‘using the harmonics and taking out the attack of the key’, and then using his ipod to play this as a kind of harmonic underlay to the melody being played on the piano. The effect was spellbinding.

As if playing beautiful music wasn't enough, Ludovico then stayed behind to sign autographs...

At the end of the concert the audience erupted into thunderous standing applause. Einaudi played one encore, to more adoration and applause, before bowing and leaving the stage. His quiet attitude of humour and humility was a breath of fresh air in these times of preening celebrity.

It was announced that Ludovico Einaudi would sign programmes, albums or merchandise after the performance. Perhaps he didn’t realize what he had let himself in for. It looked like the entire audience was queuing from the stage door all the way through the bar to the exit, hundreds of people – their eyes shiny with adoration - desperate to acquire the signature of this quiet, grey-haired Italian pianist. From the pub across the road, we watched their slow progress as we sank a pint of ale. I somehow felt I was giving him something back by not making him sign yet another programme, and in a funny way I feel I owe him something.

The first time I heard the music of Ludovico Einaudi it was 2am and I was at a friend’s house feeling really low. My friend sat down at her piano and started to play Una Mattina. And then something very specific happened; I stopped listening to the miserable monologue inside my head and started listening to the music. It was beautiful. Sometime later I gave a CD of Una Mattina to a man I had recently met and soon afterwards we started seeing each other. He said that anyone who listened to such beautiful music must be a beautiful person. (Cheers Ludovico, I sure fooled him!) The interesting thing is, when I read reviews about Einaudi, everyone always has a strong emotional response or some kind of story to tell about the first time they came across the music. For me, his music really was ‘the food of love’. Long may he play on.

21/11/2010 - BRISTOL
22/11/2010 - BUXTON
23/11/2010 - BURY ST EDMUNDS
24/11/2010 - BIRMINGHAM
25/11/2010 - LEEDS
27/11/2010 - BIRMINGHAM

Aly Stoneman’s website
Ludovico Einaudi’s website

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