Pianist/Composer Ludovico Einaudi Delivers Engaging & Evocative Show at Seattle’s McCaw Hall (SHOW REVIEW)

Writing music reviews, at its most base, is an attempt to bring the audience into an experience and to open new doors of thought, of expression, of feeling. In some instances, it’s very challenging; many live shows are good but largely forgettable, enjoyable in the moment but mostly not so much as to provide fodder for engagement beyond brief temporal pleasure.

Some experiences go much deeper and are worth trying to explain such that the reader might engage, live, and feel it vicariously. Most people who have attended much live music have experienced shows such as this – shows that make them feel, shows in which the listener can close their eyes and be somewhere, remember something, imagine something, be – for a moment – engaged beyond themselves.  

The latter was the case with Ludovico Einaudi’s recent stop in Seattle at the gorgeous, and acoustically enviable, McCaw Hall on June 18th. There, the Italian artist – descended from Italian political royalty (truth: his paternal grandfather, Luigi Einaudi, was the President of Italy from 1948 to 1955) – brought normally staid Seattleites to their feet clapping, exclaiming that they couldn’t believe how amazing he’d been, shouting “bravo,” and generally carrying on.

Along with Hasa and Mecozzi, Einaudi put on a nearly 90-minute show covering the newly-released Seven Days Walking material, as well as a few other works. Einaudi never spoke, but instead, drove his grand piano for over an hour with no written music, accompanied for most of the show by the impressively-skilled Hasa and Mecozzi on cello and violin/viola (respectively). The three were as connected; never missing an entrance or ending off-kilter, perfectly complementing one another, the sum far better than the individuals. The trio has been playing together for around eight years, and in subsequent conversations, revealed that the material on Seven Days Walking had emerged almost unplanned, the result of the group simply playing together, putting music down to the tape.  

Befitting Einaudi’s history, the music was deeply evocative. His fingers dancing subtly across the keys while his colleagues’ bows etched their way into their strings, the music managed to evoke everything from bubbling brooks and panoramic views of peaceful mountains to noir film scores and pop music. Indeed, as the trio played, Einaudi’s rich and repetitive (in a good way) and deeply suspenseful playing conjured up so many memories, so many images, as to be almost overwhelming. In the course of the evening, with almost no visual stimulation beyond a slightly-changing white, colored, or oddly textured scrim, this listener went on a mental journey. At various times the music brought to mind influences ranging from George Winston (specifically, his December album), Philip Glass’s Metamorphosis, Coldplay, Ray Lynch (oddly, Deep Breakfast, and specifically, “Celestial Soda Pop.” Yes, seriously.) and Apparat. The mix may not surprise; however, as with any musical journey, the pleasure of combining so many forces was both surprising and powerful.  

Similarly, and again perhaps unsurprisingly, the music seemed perfectly suited to the Pacific Northwest. To be sure, much of Einaudi’s music – and in particular, Seven Days Walking – feels written for this place, a place full of moist darkness, of rotting beauty, of vistas too spectacular to capture and of life endlessly renewing through death (google “nurse log” if this doesn’t mean anything to you). It is a place of intense beauty so repetitive as to almost become monotonous – yet never quite succeed, sucking one endlessly back into the experience, carrying the listener – or viewer – forward on waves of history, waves of deep feeling.

That, in the end, was the central power of the evening: Einaudi’s music evokes feeling. It pulls people in, but even more impressively, pulls them in only enough to let them make the experience their own. Superfluous words do not pull away one’s focus; rather, a live show with Einaudi is an opportunity to be carried away, to one’s own past, to their present, to the place in which they live. It is, in short, an experience worth writing about, worth attempting to share, and worth remembering.


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2 Responses

  1. I couldn’t agree with this write-up more. Having been there, Ludovico’s performance was as captivating as it is at home, but the man exudes talent that has to be seen in person. It’s a haunting experience as much as you rejoice in being able to witness.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. I had the pleasure of seeing him play in Vancouver and I could have listened to him play all night. You could have heard a pin drop all night long as he played his hauntingly beautiful music. I still cannot stop thinking about it. He is amazing.

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