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It seems to me that anyone who writes about Einaudi these days is opening themselves to an immediate torrent of social media abuse, simply for mentioning the name. So, before I write about these two books, I’m going to state:
- Some people like Einaudi, some people don’t.
- I like some Einaudi, I don’t like all of it.
- I enjoy listening to some Einaudi, I don’t enjoy listening to all of it.
- I like playing some Einaudi, I don’t like to play all of it.
If anyone thinks this is going to be an Einaudi-bashing post, I’m sorry, it’s not. If you’re out to Einaudi-bash, it’s probably time to move on.
The sheet music album, Cinema, accompanies the album of the same name which was released in 2021. It is a compilation of Einaudi’s greatest works for film and television. Whilst the album contains 28 tracks, including two previously unreleased, the sheet music album contains just 17. Nevertheless, the sheet music offers outstanding value for money with that number of pieces alone.
Quite a few of the pieces have been readily included on previous albums and in previously-published Einaudi sheet music collections. There are therefore some familiar tracks such as ‘Le Onde’ and ‘Berlin Song’, and overall, the collection includes pieces spanning a timeframe of some 25 years. There were some pleasing pieces in this collection which I’m sure I’ve overlooked in previous collections. ‘Experience’, ‘Golden Butterflies’ and ‘Love is a Mystery’ were all well-crafted, tuneful and satisfying to play.
I also enjoyed ‘L’Origine nascosta’, but the standout piece for me is ‘Due tramonti’, a piece I’ve heard many times, but never played. Dating from 1999, it remains one of Einaudi’s most well-known pieces. It’s deeply satisfying to play, full of emotion, and uses the full range and capabilities of the piano.
A lot of people tell me that Einaudi is easy to play. I’d politely disagree with that. It might be easy to trot out the notes, but that doesn’t make it easy to play musically. Its repeating patterns, often with minimal and subtle changes, require a good degree of concentration. There’s nothing to hide behind too; play a wrong note, and we’ll know about it. All of Einaudi’s music requires a huge amount of tonal control and an effective balance. Playing Einaudi often highlights starkly when the piano is getting too out of tune for my ears!
Overall, some lovely pieces here, many repeated from previous collections, but nevertheless, representing a good cross-section of his music at a good price.
Cinema by Ludovico Einaudi, is published by Chester Music and distributed by Hal Leonard, ISBN 97811705138045, RRP £13.50
By contrast, Einaudi’s Underwater is his newest album, released in January 2022. Both album and sheet music collection include 12 piano tracks representing somewhat of a departure from the types of pieces included in Cinema and other previous collections. These works have a different feel to them, featuring far less in the way of repetitive motives in favour of a more ‘traditional’ melody and accompaniment feel.
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The graceful melody in ‘Rolling Like a Ball’ is supported by a perpetual motion-type accompaniment. Textural changes are offered with octaves, and the central and final sections are more chord-based. ‘Indian Yellow’ has a feel of Satie in its chord structure and texture, but this gives way to a strong waltz-like feel to the closing section.
‘Flora’ has a mediaeval-like feel to its opening, but this quickly changes to a syncopated repeating pattern. I feel this is perhaps one of the weaker pieces in the collection, and the chordal opening could have been exploited further. You may be forgiven for thinking that on hearing the first four notes, Einaudi has utilised the melody of the music hall song ‘ Daisy Daisy’ in his piece, ‘Almost June’, but the shifting harmonies give an altogether different feel.
I particularly liked ‘Swordfish’ which had a very different feel with its opening chords akin to, shall we say, a ‘pop ballad’. I found this whole piece to be quite captivating, and satisfying to play, the melodies intriguing in places. ‘Atmos’ reminded by of Philip Glass with its repeated chordal pattens, whilst ‘Temple White’ had a feel of Alexis Ffrench to it. These nods to other composers set, I think, Einaudi’s music within a wider framework.
Overall, I found Einaudi’s Underwater to be refreshingly different to much of his previous output. The book is beautiful, and just as I found with Rachel Portman’s Ask the River, images of the original composer manuscripts are a really lovely addition. I feel that unlike some of the works included in Cinema, Underwater will stand the test of time as a standalone collection.
Underwater by Ludovico Einaudi, is published by Chester Music and distributed by Hal Leonard, ISBN 9781705156858, RRP £16.99
I was sent a review copy of these books free of charge; however, this review is my honest opinion as a teacher. You can find my Reviews Policy here.
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