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CD Review

Ludovico Einaudi

Ponderosa Music & Art 105

In a Time Lapse

  • Corale for String Quartet & Electronics 2,3,7,10,13
  • Time Lapse for Strings & Keyboards 1,3,8,13,15
  • Life for Keyboards, Strings & Orchestra 3,4,6,8,12
  • Walk for Strings & Keyboards 1,3,8,13
  • Discovery at Night for Piano 8
  • Run for Orchestra & Electronics 7
  • Brothers for Strings, Keyboards & Tape 3,8,10,12
  • Orbits for Strings, Keyboards & Electronics 2,3,7,8,10,12,13,15
  • Two Trees for Piano & Electronics 8
  • Newton's Cradle for Strings, Percussion & Electronics 1-3,5,7,8-11,13-15
  • Waterways for Strings 2,3,7,9,10,13,17
  • Experience for Strings & Orchestra 5,6,8,12,16,17
  • Underwood for Piano & Violin 8,12
  • Burning for Piano & Orchestra 8
1 Francesco Arcuri, kalimba
2 Alice Costamagna, violin
3 Marco Decimo, cello
4 Marco Decimo, glockenspiel
5 Mauro Durante, tambourine
6 Mauro Durante, violin
7 Ludovico Einaudi, electronics
8 Ludovico Einaudi, piano
9 Franco Feruglio, double bass
10 Svetlana Fomina, viola
11 Redi Hasa, cello
12 Daniel Hope, violin
13 Antonio Leofreddi, viola
14 Robert Lippok, electronics
15 Federico Mecozzi, violin
16 Alberto Martini, violin
17 Francesca Tirale, harp
Ponderosa Music & Art CD105
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Ludovico Einaudi is an Italian composer and pianist who was born 1955 in Turin. He graduated in composition from the Milan Conservatory (Conservatorio di musica 'Giuseppe Verdi' di Milano), and studied further with Luciano Berio. His music has its roots in the "classical" tradition but draws on the worlds of pop, folk and other modern forms, privileging evocative melodies and ambiences that are designed – as Einaudi's website says (the CD comes without documentation of any kind) – to make a strong emotional impact. In the late 1980s Einaudi's style underwent a change… experiment and work in the theatrical and dance milieus became his greatest interest.

"In a Time Lapse" is a collection of 14 named tracks on a single, minimally-presented, CD. All are purely instrumental. And the instruments chosen are conventional; they are very conventionally played… the five strings, glockenspiel, tambourine, harp, piano and keyboards and kalimba (African thumb piano). The music is conventional, cliché even, too. It has an "ambient" and "New Age" feel to it. Its melodies, textures and harmonies are indeed obviously intentionally evocative. At lush, soaring, arpeggiated washes of sound punctuated by unvarying light rhythmical accompaniment these pieces each succeeds. For the most part all slow: imagine the blond couple running in slow motion towards each other across the cornfield.

It seems as though the purpose of "In a Time Lapse" is to evoke, or actually construct, a musical suite. As though Einaudi is trying to summon up the aura of, describe or gloss, a novel in a multi-part tone poem. "In a Time Lapse" was composed over two years and recorded in October 2012 in a monastery near Verona. Listeners looking for marked thematic, rhythmical and even significant sonic development won't find it on this CD. They are more likely to find moods, evocations, atmospheres. Though none in an exploratory or particularly innovative sense.

Some of the pieces – Run [tr.6] and Experience [tr.12] are good examples – have conventionally beautiful (tonal) melodies. They sound at times as though they could have been written for film; or for a vocal accompaniment; or a chorus of "Ahhhhhs". There is a minimalist tinge to several. Glass comes to mind. None is longer than Newton's Cradle, at almost eight minutes. And, while all the music here is of a type, it doesn't combine in any easily-discernible way to form either a consonant whole or a contrasting set of ideas where one piece distinguishes itself from the others.

You can see where Einaudi wanted to go. And violinist Daniel Hope even lends his approval by playing. Einaudi says, "When you get conscious that our time is limited, it's the moment where you try to fill that space with all your energy and emotions… and live every moment of your life fully as when you were a child." But there really isn't much evidence that – some nifty playing aside – much original thought or execution has gone into the resulting effort. Definitely a niche offering. But rather formulaic and uninspired.

Copyright © 2013, Mark Sealey

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