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Ludovico Einaudi - Barbican Centre, London - July 31 2013 (Live Review)

Monday, 05 August 2013 Written by Ryan Crittenden

The sounds and musical creations of Ludovico Einaudi may not be familiar to everyone, but whether it’s “the music off that advert you saw” or the poignant soundtrack to a film like This Is England, this master’s work has permeated far beyond the realm of classical music.

A packed Barbican Centre welcomed him with quiet reverence for the first night of a five-date residency at the venue and the classical pianist, along with his 11-piece band, waited through the solitary sound of a pulsing drum beat before beginning a magnificent two hour show.

Einaudi’s latest album, ‘In A Time Lapse’, has captured many people’s imagination and music from it dominated the first half of the show. The record has been described as illustrating “all of life’s experiences and passions brought together in a single moment”. Watching it unfold live, it is hard to disagree.

The intensity of the show is like nothing else out there, whether it be the delicate plucking of a single cello string or a full band crescendo. The musicianship and togetherness of the band is stunning and each one deserves a share of the audience’s attention - from percussion, to strings and guitars.

The man of the show is Einaudi, though. He sits at his piano with his back to the audience, remaining impressively calm. Every now and again he pauses so that the crowd can respond with noisy, prolonged ovations.

Following a brief interval, Einaudi returned alone for three older pieces. Spellbinding and thrilling, his playing is of the highest quality. As the band rejoined him, the concert effortlessly rolled on with a subtle, understated lightness of touch. The audience continued to show their appreciation, but the band remained unmoved until the very end, when the standing ovation that greeted them caused wry smiles to spread across faces.

The demand for an encore was too much, and with Einaudi uttering his first words of the evening to introduce the band everything became a bit more real. The final piece of the night started with a mind-boggling single drum solo from Riccardo Laganà​, but in time the band joined him for something approaching a jam session. Another standing ovation followed, which in reality was the only correct response to a wonderful show.


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