Following the release of Day 1 of his seven-part project, Seven Days Walking, Ludovico Einaudi showcases his new work, and some timeless favourites, at Islington’s Union Chapel.
Is there a more fitting gig to attend on the week of World Piano Day than Ludovico Einaudi? The Italian classical superstar returned to London this week for some somewhat impromptu shows at London’s Union Chapel ahead of his “tour proper” later this year.
Walking into the Chapel you can never help but feel like a masonic monk getting ready to take your vows and bleed a goat – the architecture is stunning, with the imposing glass window looking over the stage. For this performance, tea lights line the mezzanine level, and there’s a scent of wick and cinder in the air – a little like a stoner’s bedroom.
The last time I saw Einaudi (at the Royal Festival Hall) his set was filled to the brim with experimental tracks from his Taranta Project, and the stage was populated by around six people. This time, I can only see a piano, a cello, and a viola – bliss for such a serene setting.
And true to that, as Einaudi takes to the stage he is joined by just two others, and still the stage was busier than the average Leave Means Leave protest.
If you’ve ever been to an Einaudi concert you’ll know what I mean when I say that it’s hard to know when to applause. The tracks are epic in length, and crescendos and diminuendos never necessarily signal the end of a piece. Einaudi himself is always so subtle in removing his hands from the keys that you need 20/20 vision and opera binoculars to be sure a piece is finished. In the entire evening there are only a few moments for applause, but boy does Ludo get it.
“Einaudi is a gateway drug to modern classical music.”
The evening features predominantly Einaudi’s newest offering, Seven Days Walking (Day 1), one of seven albums he’ll be releasing over the next seven months. I’m not saying that you have to do this, but to hear this unfamiliar new music live in a setting like Union Chapel is definitely the correct way to hear it properly for the first time.
The age group of an Einaudi gig is always a conundrum – it ranges from teens to people who’ve been paying into an Over 50 plan for 40 years. Speaking with someone before the gig, they hit the nail on the head; for many, Einaudi is a gateway drug to modern classical music. I’ve always said, he’s most people’s favourite composer without them even realising. You can’t watch one episode of The X Factor without hearing his music at every dramatic audition.
True to his usual form, Einaudi holds the audience in the palm of his hand for the entire night and has us on the edge of our pews. The encore of hits like Nuvole Bianche are met with huge applause and standing ovation at the evening’s finish.
The question is, is the standing ovation for the pianist, or to give the arse a rest from the pews. In this writers opinion – both.
What an evening. What a venue. What a performer.
You can catch Einaudi later this year at shows across the UK, and I encourage you to go along – if only to make people think you’re far classier than you are.