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Ludovico Einaudi - St Davids Hall, Cardiff - 28th April 2013 (Live Review)

Monday, 29 April 2013 Written by David Ball
Reviewing this concert provided a first for me. I’m pretty sure everything I’ve reviewed previously would sit neatly in the ‘rock and pop’ section of your local record store, so given the opportunity to review a classical show in Cardiff’s St David’s Hall, I was looking forward to a new experience.

Ludovico Einaudi is a 57 year-old pianist son of a former Italian president whose sound is described in the event listing as ‘The welcome sound of stillness in a hectic World’. While his name may not be instantly familiar among non classical listeners, his work on soundtracks such as ‘This Is England’ would be recognisable to many. Having taken a break from scoring music for the big screen, he released his latest album ‘In A Time Lapse’ in February of this year.

It is this latest album which provides the content for the first of two performances either side of a short interval. With a 10-strong orchestra, the show starts with a pulsing heartbeat from a drum before the strings, percussion and finally Einaudi’s piano keys bring the full sound together.

There’s welcoming warmth to most of the pieces in this opening act as his arranging skills allow each instrument to blend perfectly together. In the same way a Michelin starred chef brings multiple high quality ingredients together to form a perfect dish, Einaudi combines every individual sound to make each single, breathtaking piece of music. As we move toward the interval the light show becomes more prominent and the music gradually becomes darker, culminating in a final piece full of theatrical flair while the strings take on a threatening mysticism. It’s the most spectacular performance of the night and a fitting way to finish part one.

Following the short interval Einaudi returns for a short solo section before welcoming back his companions as he runs through a variety of music from his illustrious career. It’s a credit to him and also, if I’m honest, a surprise to me that there is absolutely no ego involved here at all. While his exceptional skills as a pianist would lead many to spend time on elongated, self indulgent solos to show off his brilliance, instead Einaudi uses his piano as the glue which brings everything else together, always allowing space for the music to breath and the audience to take everything in.

It’s impossible to pick out a single member of his orchestra for praise, due to all of them grabbing your attention with their own exceptional musicianship at various points. Every song paints its own picture and has its own character in a way that means the 2 hours of performance time disappears in no time. An encore is almost demanded by the near ten minutes of applause when they stand to take a bow and even after the further 15 minutes of this the show seems to be over too soon.

I’ve often written that the best live music makes you feel something when watching but I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed something which is quite as mesmerising as this. From moments of tear jerking beauty to flashes of power and aggression this is music as art performed with beautiful expression and perfect clarity. It may have taken me over 30 years to finally ‘get’ classical music but it will not be anywhere near as long until I come back to it.

Ludovico Einaudi’s latest World tour is ongoing. Cardiff was the final stop of the current UK leg however he will return for five shows at the Barbican this summer as well as a new tour in November to be announced shortly. Check back at Stereoboard for details when they’re announced.

Ludovico Einaudi’s latest album ‘In A Time Lapse’ is available now on Decca.

Ludovico Einaudi UK Tour Dates are as follows

Wed July 31st 2013 - Barbican Hall, London
Thu August 1st 2013 - Barbican Hall, London
Fri August 2nd 2013 - Barbican Centre, London
Sat August 3rd 2013 - Barbican Hall, London
Sun August 4th 2013 - Barbican Hall, London

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