Ludovico Einaudi has often been referred to as a “modern classical”
composer. This presumably means that he writes in a style similar
to that of the great composers of the Classical Period, like
Mozart or Haydn. Other times, I have heard people describe him
as a Minimalist and a good example of that movement. Whether
one or the other is a question of opinion or taste; however
it is utterly irrelevant. The fact is that his music acts like
a balm on a tortured soul. It is calming, soothing, lyrical
and completely beautiful.
He was born in Turin, Italy in a family that was not of musicians.
His grandfather, Luigi Einaudi, was President of Italy and his
father ran his own publishing company. It was his mother, who
played the piano, who first influenced the young Ludovico and
got him interested in music. Eventually he decided to become
a full time musician. He studied first at Milan’s Conservatorio
Verdi and then with no less than Luciano Berio.
According to Darren Henley, who wrote the notes for Einaudi’s
Album Echoes - a collection of his best compositions
- Einaudi’s musical influences are wide-ranging: from J. S.
Bach through Mozart and Chopin to Manuel de Falla; and from
the Beatles through Bob Dylan to U2 and Radiohead. Many of his
pieces have also been inspired by literary works, songs or folk
tunes from all over the world. This diversity of inspirational
sources makes his music so appealing to almost anybody, independent
of taste, knowledge or background.
The works in the current CD, The Calm of Einaudi, are
- perhaps uncommonly - not performed by the composer himself
but this is not an ordinary recording. It is a work of love
and dedication to a cause: that of offering a few minutes of
peace and relaxation to cancer sufferers and their families
during their terrible battles with the disease. It will raise
financial help for cancer charities and much needed cancer research.
Christine Rayner, the pianist who performs Einaudi’s works in
this recording, is herself a survivor of breast cancer. She
has a website dedicated to supporting people with similar problems,
Amazons, and has also written a book describing her own
experience with the disease.
Rayner is not a virtuoso pianist nor does she attempt to become
one with this work. She did not record this CD to showcase her
artistry with the piano but to “…offer the listener a restful
hour of peace, calm and relaxation”, as she herself says
in the notes. This she fully achieves. The album is a compilation
of well-known compositions for solo piano by Einaudi taken from
his large and diverse body of work, created over more than a
decade. Ms Rayner has a slightly different approach than the
composer. She increases the tempi a little and her
playing is less poetic. Even so her delight in the music is
obvious and more than compensates for the minor technical flaws.
Einaudi’s performance of his own works is, as one would expect,
technically more accomplished than that of Ms Rayner. Naturally
he is also more lyrical and introspective, as he is emotionally
involved with his creations. What Rayner manages to produce
here is a personal, loving and captivating interpretation. It
is obvious throughout but especially in the first two pieces,
Nuvole Bianche (White Clouds) and Le Onde
(The Wave) how much Rayner feels the music and what an important
role it plays in her life. She says in the booklet notes that
“the calming influence of many of Einaudi’s works creates
for me a sanctuary in which the stresses of daily life have
Finally, this CD does exactly what it sets out to do: to lift
the spirits of those in need through simple but beautiful melodies.
It provides not only an hour of serenity and peaceful harmony
but is also in aid of a very, very worthy cause. We are assured
that at least £1 per copy sold will be Gift-Aid donated to UK
Cancer Charities. Donations from sales will also go directly
to help fund Professor Roy Bicknell’s research into alternative
treatments to chemotherapy.
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