Echoes - The Einaudi Collection
2003 / BMG International
Review by Kathy Parsons
It is the first cold, rainy morning of the fall season, and I’m sitting here listening to one of the most beautiful piano albums I’ve heard in awhile, courtesy of a good friend in England who sent it to me because he was so excited about it. Italian composer/pianist Ludovico Einaudi is something of a sensation in Europe, especially in The UK, where his music is featured on Classic FM. The good news is that this incredible collection should be released in the US in late November 2003. It is currently available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble as an import, which carries a hefty price tag, so it could actually be less expensive to order it from www.amazon.uk. The first fourteen tracks are from Einaudi’s four previous releases; the last three are new and were recorded live in London earlier this year. The music is complex, but very accessible. It would make a wonderful backdrop for other activities, but deserves active listening to enjoy the beauty of the music as well as Einaudi’s evocative playing.
All of the pieces are strong and individual, and several include other instruments besides the piano; one, “Calmo,” is a harp solo. The collection opens with “The Waves (Le Onde),” a gorgeous solo inspired by Virginia Woolfe’s book of the same title. With gently rolling chords, Einaudi captures the ocean at peace. The theme recurs several times, a little differently each time, just as the ocean is constantly changing and yet is always the same. I absolutely love this piece! “Out of the Night” is piano and strings, and is a bit darker and more brooding, born at the end of a period of frustration and writer’s block. “The Dark Line” comes from the Woolfe book again, and describes the place on the horizon where clouds and the sun meet the sea. Rather melancholy and mysterious, it is also deeply passionate. “Eden Roc” is quite different - Celtic in flavor - with piano, guitar, and string quartet. It is livelier and more upbeat, with a pensive melody on strings and a dancelike rhythm on guitar - a very interesting piece! “Nefeli” is a real gem. Composed for an energetic little girl, the piece is flowing, slightly melancholic, and absolutely gorgeous. “Tonight” was inspired by the 16th century French folk songs Einaudi’s mother played for him as a child. Romantic and hopeful, this is one of the more upbeat and dynamic tracks with a brilliant left hand accompaniment that sounds like a guitar being strummed - very beautiful! “Odd Days” is another big favorite. Describing “one of those days,” the piano and string quartet blend wonderfully in a darkly passionate mood piece that would work well as a film theme (Einaudi has done a lot of work in films as well as other media). “Behind the Window” is one of the newer pieces, and describes the moment when you are looking out a window and something grabs your attention. Light in mood with lots of open spaces, it is a bit less structured than some of the other pieces.
It is fascinating how Echoes has a variety of moods and styles of music, and yet carries a pretty consistent mood of calm introspection. This has become one of my favorite albums, and I hope more of Ludovico Einaudi’s work becomes available in the US. I give it my highest recommendation.
October 31, 2003
with Christine Rayner