Going back to Einaudi
Someone once had a bad experience meeting their hero. I’m not sure of the details of the encounter, but it resulted in heroes everywhere getting a bad rep. Maybe he blogged about his experience, and when you googled “meet your heroes” his post entitled “NEVER” was at the top of the results page. However it happened, the phrase has always rung in my ears when planning on seeing a musical hero of mine live.
So it was with trepidation that I (Alasdair) headed to Cadogan Hall last night to see Ludovico Einaudi, the oblivious father of GetJazzical. You may have noticed that we mention Einaudi in pretty much every podcast. We also refer to him in every post, and compare every artist we play to him, his style and his influence. If you ask Olly, he would tell you that he was in fact the first person ever to see Ludovico Einaudi live. And back in my school days, I would woo the ladies (or more accurately win a music competition) in my hipster cello/piano ensemble The Sunset Boys playing Due Tramonti.
There was another worry floating through my head: Einaudi’s minimalist, contemporary, classical, pop, international amalgamation was great back in the early 2000s when I didn’t know anything more, anything deeper, and there was no real interwebs way of finding out about related artists. But over the years, I’ve moved on musically. If Einaudi was the gateway drug, I’d be down an alley shooting up new, minimalist, screechy classical music into my big toe these days.
As I took my seat amongst all the white middle class people, the lights
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dimmed and on walked the man. Unassuming in stature, yet instantly recognisable. Black tee and black blazer are to Einaudi as roll neck and jeans are to Jobs. He began with a piece from his latest offering, Nightbook. He then took the mic to inform us that he was going to be going back in time with the music, starting with his most recent work and seeing how far back he could go with the allotted performance slot. Each piece seemed to flow into the other, with soft, thoughtful playing, sometimes just allowing the chord to bounce off the walls.
Now, I’ve realised I could go two ways with this review. I could either be entirely douchebag hipster about it and say that while Einaudi was once an inspiration to new composers, he’s now become so ubiquitous that I can’t hear a piece without thinking of an X Factor montage, or something to do with Myleene Klass; I could mention that the mere sight of people clutching an Einaudi album and saying “you know, I
never thought I’d be into classical music, but this has changed my mind” makes me want to throw a piano at them just so I could hear the resonance; and rant about the fact that he has produced an offspring of imitators who have mistaken scale exercises for actual music. I could also say that the concert was everything my teenage self could ever have hoped for and more: to hear his music played by him live is a completely different experience to hearing it on an album; the music transports you, soothes you, and excites you; and Einaudi is responsible for bringing many people to a deeper, more open understanding of unpretentious, classical music. I could go down either path, but to deny one view or the other would be to do a disservice to Einaudi the composer, and ignore Einaudi the product.
Listening to him reminded me that marketing gets in the way of brilliance. As soon as Einaudi became big, his record company was probably looking for “the next Einaudi”. Composers thought that if they were going to make it now, they had to copy his style. But last night, I realised that I don’t like his style of music. I like his music. I think Divenire is his best work, and is an incredibly daring, moving and haunting album; and while I dismissed Nightbook on its release as a cash in album, listening live suggested that there is a lot more he has yet to offer. The record company may want him to make 5 more albums that
sound exactly like
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Le Onde, but when it’s just Einaudi and a piano, your are treated to the unfiltered, PR free originality of the composer.
As the man took his final bow, I heard a teenager behind me say “I mean, he makes the piano sound so good!” I could have laughed, and made a snide comment to my friend, (actually I did, but that’s not the point) but when I was his age, that was exactly my analysis. I just hope that he, and the rest of the audience, follows Einaudi as an opening into the new world of classical music, instead of following the marketing companies in search for “it’s a bit like Einaudi, but…”