Gig Review by Ryan Beardsley with Photography by Anna Poole

Fresh from the release of his latest composition; Seven Days Walking: Day One which incidentally, became the fastest-streamed classical album of all time in its first week of release, Ludovico Einaudi embarked upon the Union Chapel in Islington where a packed house was waiting to welcome him with open arms.

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Before the show began, a request was made for phones to remain in their respective bags and pockets; music to my ears as it meant no distracting glares of light or flash photography. As a result, the ambience and the atmosphere were not punctured, save for a small number of naughty amateur photographers, booooo! Accompanied by Federico Mecozzi on violin and Redi Hasa on cello, Einaudi takes his seat at the ivories and the performance begins.

A slight disclaimer, Classical isn’t exactly what I would call my area of musical expertise although I am a huge fan. I’m certainly not in a position to critique musicianship, obviously, there are no lyrics to decipher and the evening is less a performance than a recital. So, with this in mind, I’ll be speaking from the heart…

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Throughout the show I was moved, genuinely moved. Most of the compositions performed were from his most recent release, including Low Mist Var. 1 and A Sense of Symmetry but some old favourites were sprinkled in as well, notably, Fuori Dal Mondo, known to many as the theme from This Is England. When the familiar keys were played, it was as though all those in the church were holding their breath, not wishing to utter a sound and run the risk of destabilising the ambience. Breathtaking.

The aura of the man himself was undeniable and watching him majestically wave his fingers over the keys at unfathomable speeds only made the music all the more impressive. And what better place to enjoy the experience than the Union Chapel, an intimate working church where the acoustics were impressive enough, but the gothic structure and minimalist stage setting were also perfect for the performance, enhancing the haunting quality of the compositions.

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After an hour, it seemed as though the magic over all too soon, but then I didn’t know that encores were also performed at classical concerts…

The Maestro made his way back onstage, solo this time for a spine-tingling rendition of Nuvole Bianche which once again rendered the audience as hushed statues in their pews. For one final treat, Mecozzi and Hasa returned to the stage for expected set closer Experience, which was predictably the highlight of the evening. The music is already incredibly powerful and emotionally resonant, but in the surroundings of the Union Chapel is suitably akin to a religious experience for those in attendance.

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A richly deserved standing ovation is provided and the Italian appears genuinely humbled and moved by the crowd response, perhaps another reason for why is he so overwhelmingly popular. Eunaudi has clearly crossed the boundaries between composer and audience in a new way for Classical music, reflected in the way his music has clearly resonated with such a diverse crowd.

Perhaps the perfect example of this is illustrated in the shape of one of my childhood friends. This individual had no instrumental experience or anything other than a passing interest in Classical music until he discovered Einaudi. Once he had, he began teaching himself to play the piano and it is truly humbling to see him go from strength to strength. Surely that kind of inspiration is what music is all about?

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Einaudi is returning to London in the Summer with a host of shows at the Barbican, now I just have to make sure I am there to see him again, I strongly suggest you do the same.

In a word, magnificent.

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