Ludovico Einaudi at the Barbican: A soul-stirring heart-to-heart
A grandiose hymn to nature and to the creative wandering of the mind which it facilitates, the latest imposing project of Ludovico Einaudi, Seven Days Walking, is inspired and built upon the composer’s hikes in the mountains in his native land, where the snow often covers a pretty untouched reign of flora and fauna. Each month, starting from March 2019, has seen the release of one “day” – an album comprising variations around themes triggered and explored in these walks. The namesake tour doesn’t have a setlist, nor does it offer a well-defined identity for the various collections of pieces, which means it’s not easy to immerse yourself immediately into the performance. For the London dates at the Barbican, there are four macro-sequences, each containing some variations from the albums so far. The experience offered is a journey, without introduction or conclusion, in which the audience are taken by the hand, led by Einaudi at the piano, Federico Mecozzi on violin and Redi Hasa on cello.
It all begins in darkness. Einaudi is hidden by the shadows as he enters the stage, accompanied by complete silence from the spectators, who don’t seem to have noticed him until he sits in front of the grand piano, the strings preparing themselves on the other side. There are feeble beams of light while the artists open the night with Low Mist Var.1. This is a pretty subtle overture which increases as the sequence incorporates variations of Gravity. These include the lower keys of the piano, heavy tones played with energetic touches. With A Sense of Symmetry and Ascent, the listener is initiated into to the artistry of the maestro, who measures and balances pauses and a brisk pace with equanimity. At this point, it is impossible not to praise the visuals in the background. Each section has been themed to exalt the silhouettes of the musicians and their rhythmic flow, the performers playing at one point with an abstract colourful backdrop, at another with spotlights at foot-level, the effects perfectly match the movements without overwhelming the eyes.
The highlight of the night arrives in the form of the third segment, featuring variations of The Path of the Fossils. The instruments are engaged in a melodic dialogue, while the tunes arouse emotions in an incredibly moving succession of arrangements. The soothing music coming from the piano finds a divine companion in the plucking of the violin and the intense cello. It is a soul-stirring talk without words, a heart-to-heart with the listener, a perfect example of the rise and fall, that perfect fiery crescendo and smooth fading which Einaudi is extremely good at.
The final part is the longest, mostly featuring the animal-inspired variations of the albums. The composer couldn’t leave the stage without performing at least a couple of the most acclaimed works from his repertoire. Alone under a dim ray of light, Einaudi executes a smooth Nuvole Bianche. Mecozzi and Hasa rejoin him for one last memorable gift: a vibrant and pulsing Experience.
In the same way he entered, after a lasting applause and standing ovation, Einaudi exits the hall with no speech or comments uttered. The maestro powerfully casts music as the main protagonist, simply letting each emotion seek out its own unique sound.
Photos: Arianna Cavalensi
For further information and future events visit Ludovico Einaudi’s website here.
Watch the video for Birdsong here: