Ludovico Einaudi at the Royal Albert Hall
Water droplet sound effects ring into the hall, signifying the dive into a tranquil aquatic soundworld. 5272 seats burst into rapturous applause, with shouts of “Bravo!” as an elegant silver-haired figure enters the stage, carrying undeniable gravitas as he presses a hand to his chest and bows in gratitude.
Following a series of sold-out shows in March, the Italian composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi returns to London, this time to the Royal Albert Hall, for a three-night run promoting his latest album for solo piano, Underwater, which was released in January 2022. Composed in lockdown, Underwater is testament to the composer’s anti-virtuosic style, with minimalist melodies and references to nature providing a signature spaciousness to the tracks.
Einaudi straddles both classical and popular genres, and his music has been used in numerous screen scores, including Nomadland and Doctor Zhivago, as well as reaching over 15 billion hits in a viral TikTok trend earlier this year. His universal appeal is apparent in tonight’s audience: young, dressed-up couples mingle alongside families spanning generations, and the diversity of backgrounds is notably different to a typical classical audience.
The concert’s first half melts into Einaudi’s usual ebb and flow, with the hypnotic melodies of Wind Song and Atoms mirrored by the marbled grey-blue swirls projected onto the hall’s iconic “mushroom” ceiling. The lighting is enchanting throughout, as it morphs from azure to a stark spotlight, later settling at a deep red that burns underneath the band of cello, violin, percussion and piano.
Whilst the composer achieves his trademark sense of musical meditation, the unrelenting solo piano risks settling into stasis, and it is a relief to have the timbral contrast of the band in the second half, which broadens into Einaudi’s wider repertoire, including his 2021 album, Cinema, and the renowned Experience (2014).
The performance is authentic in its lack of pretension: Einaudi faces away from the audience, maintaining an intimacy with the piano that contrasts with the distracting flashing phone screens – this is no classical prom.
There is a final eruption of applause and the moved crowd spring to their feet, the couples loved-up in a sense of musical connection. In a frantic post-lockdown world, could we all benefit from a rare moment of Einaudi’s musical calm?
Photos: Ambra Vernuccio
For further information and future events visit Ludovico Einaudi’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Underwater here: