It’s the first time I’ve seen so many people turn out for a new music concert. Ludovico Einaudi’s reputation had extended beyond classical music fans to fill the Perth Concert Hall with rock, pop, film music fans and patriotic Italians! The house lights dimmed to full blackout and a drum began to thud. Gentle chords on the piano grew into a soothing melody. After a few minutes the ears and eyes adjusted to the sparse sounds and dimly-lit stage and the stress of life began to fall away.
Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi’s ambition is for his music to illuminate thoughts and emotions. The self-effacing composer led the hypnotic two hour set from grand piano with barely a word. A six-piece band accompanied him using guitars, percussion, a string quartet and electronics. The versatile group showed impressive depth of talent, swapping instruments and creating a web of sound around the piano riffs.
Most of the pieces came from Einaudi’s latest album In A Time Lapse. Long slow crescendos were constructed from a delicate layering of rhythm and melody. Einaudi explored barely audible sounds on piano, just ghosts of notes, with an emphasis on decay; notes were allowed to linger. Pieces like Waterways, Walk and Underwood explored Einaudi’s love of nature. Orbits was particularly stunning with a lighting display involving spotlights and disco balls sending refracted light to the far corners of the concert hall while wailing electric cello and atonal harmonies added an ethereal feel.
The contemplative sounds gave way to something darker in Brothers and Newtons Cradle, revealing Einaudi’s compositional chops (he studied with Luciano Berio). Eerie harmonics on the cello grew into a storm of sound and blinding flashes of light added to the sensory assault. Fly conjured images of The Intouchables – the movie for which it was composed – while Tower was otherworldly and cartoon-like with its multiple glockenspiels sounding like a music box.
The earthy, penetrating vibe of Nightbook and Eros with the strings players vamping like gypsies was an energised conclusion. I was waiting to hear Einaudi share some words about his compositions – it was much too rock-concert for program notes – but all he did was introduce the band. A shame, really, because a glimpse into the philosophies behind this thoughtful superstar of classical composition would have been fascinating.
This review copyright The West Australian newspaper February 2014.
 (sorry about the lack of photos, my picture uploader is malfunctioning!)