I don’t think that I have the aptitude for composition. I lack the musical knowledge and the technical ability to create my own music. Fortunately I don’t need to be able to, as there exists out there one man who seems to have made it his mission to create music for my soul: Ludovico Einaudi. There are obviously a lot of great dead composers out there, but their passing has rather curtailed output. The handy thing for me about Einaudi is that he just keeps on producing great track after great track. His latest album In a Time Lapse was released at the start of 2013. I follow him on twitter so I was lucky enough to see that he was performing a one-off concert stream live onto youtube from his home. If you missed it, he has since uploaded it:
This concert whetted my appetite for us going to see him live on the 13th April. We had been to two Einaudi concerts already, once for his Nightbook tour and then later a more intimate solo performance at Bristol’s St George’s Hall. So as soon as I saw he was touring again I booked tickets. I got us seats at the front left, a few rows back. Top Tip: the way that grand piano’s are hinged means that the performer is always on the left of stage.
Before I talk about the performance, a quick thing about the audience. At the Colston Hall any latecomers are held outside the auditorium until a break in the music, being let in whilst the applause is ongoing, which makes sense. The slight problem with this is that quite a few of Einaudi’s tunes start off quietly, and it takes a while for some to find their seats. So a number of peices were accompanied by a soundtrack of shuffling people and chairs. I’m always surprised how late people turn up to these things: the show started at 7:30 but there were still people coming 10 minutes before the interval. The other thing about the audience was that we had a few over-eager clappers. Any slight pause in the music, and someone would be jumping in assuming that he had finished the tune. It must be something that he has to plan for, not able to insert rests lest someone want to be the first to clap. I suppose at classical recitals this isn’t a problem because everyone already knows the music, but when you have a composer there playing his own work, that he likes to vary and add to the music, quite a few times Mr Clap-Happy got caught out. I always prefer to wait a good five seconds to ensure that they have actually finished and are not just pausing for artistic effect.
As for the actual show. It was stunning. The best that we ever have seen. The first half was dominated by the new album In a Time Lapse. It’s hard to say which of his albums I prefer, it’s a bit like being asked to name your favourite child*. But I have to say that I absolutely love every track. I could, and have, listen to the whole album on a loop. He had 11 band members on stage with him, many of them were multi-instrumentalists, one playing guitar, percussion and violin. Some people are just too talented! One of the cellists had an electric cello which was used to create some stunning effects, such as scratching his fists up and down the strings. It sounds weird but it really worked. Other times he sounded like he was playing a rock guitar. It added a great dimension to some of the more dramtic pieces.
For the start of the second half Ludovico came out on his own, and played a few of his back catalogue solo pieces. He likes to make each concert unique, so I was really pleased to hear him playing Nuvole Bianche. Which is a track that I love, but haven’t yet got the sheet music for. I hear that on the Sunday night at Birmgham he played I Giorni, which is the first Einaudi piece that I learnt. Another great thing about seeing a composer play his own music live is that he is free to mix it up a bit so he actually played little snippets of other tracks in amongst his set. After playing 4 solo tracks the rest of the musicians came back out and they played a mixture of some more from the new album and some of the ensemble pieces from Divenire and Nightbook. Some of which had been completely rearranged. They finished with Eros which he really hammered out at the finale.
Much foot stomping and clapping from us brought out a four song encore, which climaxed in a jamming session with the band members taking it in turns to solo, whilst the audience were encouraged to clap along to add rythym. I am not normally a clap-alonger. If an audience decides amonst itself to start clapping in time, I never join in. But since we were asked to by the man himself I did so till my hands were sore.
As I’ve already said it was my favourite of all his shows, bearing in mind that the other two were absolutely fantastic. I had a lump in my throat for a few of the tracks. I know that quite a few of the remaining shows are soldout but if you can find one with seats available you really should go. If need-be sell your least favourite child to fund it.
Needless to say I bought the sheet music to the new album whilst I was there. Although I’ll have to take it to the next concert to get it signed (like my other books are) as it didn’t look like he was signing that night. I’m not surprised, there were so many people there last time at the Colston Hall, he must have been sat there for hours getting through everyone.
*Son if you’re reading this: it’s not you….. **
**Only kidding everyone, (or am I?)