Seven Days Walking (Day 5) Ludovico Einaudi
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- Ludovico Einaudi (B. 1955):
- 1Ascent (Day 5)05:47
- 2Golden Butterflies Var. 1 (Day 5)02:52
- 3Gravity Var. 1 (Day 5)06:22
- 4Matches Var. 1 (Day 5)02:52
- 5View From The Other Side Var. 1 (Day 5)03:04
- 6Full Moon (Day 5)03:41
- 7Campfire Var. 1 (Day 5)03:23
- 8Cold Wind (Day 5)05:26
- 9Golden Butterflies (Day 5)06:00
- 10Low Mist (Day 5)04:13
- 11Low Mist Var. 1 (Day 5)04:41
Info for Seven Days Walking (Day 5)
Seven Days Walking could be Ludovico Einaudi’s masterwork. Seven albums released over seven months throughout 2019 – variation after variation on a theme, all of them inspired by a winter’s walk he repeated over a period of time in the Alps. It’s a complete world, dreamed up in seven days.
“I hope that you listen to one album one day, and another the next, and can’t figure out which is which,” Einaudi says playfully, which is a modest comment coming from the world’s most ubiquitous classical composer. This is music expressly designed for you to lose yourself in, a vast library of impressionistic pieces – pianistic reflections of moon on snow; an interlude of birdsong replicated in melody; the musical suggestion of fox tracks, recorded with such delicacy you can hear the pads on the keys of his grand piano.
On his studio desk in Milan, there’s a collection of Polaroid photos the Turin-born composer took on the wintery mountain road in January 2018. There are countless “identical” scenes, rendered unique with the tiniest differences – the smallest sign of a snow-melt; a windsock changing direction, on a slightly darker sky. The natural variations he saw every day fascinated him, inspiring the eleven tracks on the first album, Day One, and the countless versions to be released throughout the year.
Many will recall the sight of Einaudi playing his grand piano in the Arctic in 2016 to raise awareness for a Greenpeace campaign. Blinding white space, and white landscape, is a rich creative source for the composer, who studied under the musical visionaries Luciano Berio and Karlheinz Stockhausen.
“This is the state that my mind was in when I wrote the music,” he says, leafing through the Polaroids. “In the mountains of Switzerland, I had time to focus. In one sense I had a clear direction, but I was searching for a direction too. Your mind starts to wander. Where is the final point? It became a kind of meditation. My thinking was thinking completely free.”
While Einaudi developed an interest in the minimalism of Philip Glass and Steve Reich in the 1970s, his own compositions have always been more linear, more questing, and sweeter on the ear. He was inspired, though, by the tight, repetitive structure of the mountain concept he’d created: the walk became a journey of the mind, into which numerous musical movements could burst into bud.
“Some people prefer to change location all the time,” he says. “But even as a child, I did the same walk to school, with little differences, and I enjoyed the repetition. Within the familiarity you notice the changes – the weather, the light, the people.”
What makes Seven Days Walking unique is the scale and complexity of its variations: dozens of pieces as subtly distinct as those photographs. After his first, three-day recording session, he had six versions of one theme and decided he loved them all. “And from that point on,” he says, “I decided that I wanted to make seven albums, and transform this doubt of choosing into a project.”
It’s almost a surprise to hear that the composer – who still writes manuscript by hand, in pencil – records his spontaneous musical ideas on his phone like anyone else. Returning from Switzerland last winter, he settled in to various recording sessions in Italy, Germany and London’s Air Studios (the church for reverb, and Studio One for it intimacy) with a stripped down band. His six-strong touring group was reduced to Redi Hasa (Cello) and Frederico Mecozzi (violin and viola). On an early demo for the delicate, hopeful Matches, strings slip and slide around his central piano melody, rapidly finding the harmonics. The two musicians respond to his playing, Einaudi explains, with something like telepathy, preserving the spontaneity of the moment of composition.
The first session produced the steadily-intensifying Gravity, in which a fluttering keyboard figure, sounding like snow-fall, deepens into a rich serenade. It was followed by The Path Of The Fossils, a melody of deep, dramatic resonance which recalled another important walk in Einaudi’s life – a trail he used to take with his father, as a boy in Piedmont, where together they found fossils plugged into a wall of earth, a remainder from the time that part of Italy was under the sea.
So how do the variations work? There are three versions of Low Mist on the first album alone. On Variation 1, its heart-plucking theme is contained in four soft, falling chords. On the second album, Day Two, the character of the piece is totally different, the melody transposed and arpeggiated. The theme crops up again on the fifth album, Day 5, announced by a ghostly violin which scratches like wind. It’s like a colossal musical jigsaw.
“I like the idea that you get lost,” Einaudi says. “Like when you return to a place after six months and there is something familiar, but something has changed. This is a project about memory. Everyone creates their own images – you probably have your own walk, your own background, in mind.”
As such, Seven Days Walking is a metaphor for the way Einaudi’s music works on the mind, going someway to explaining its endless adaptability across the worlds of film and visual arts, and his broad worldwide fanbase, which includes such famous names as Nicky Minaj and Iggy Pop.
Increasingly popular with new, young audiences living in a highly connected and technology-focused world, Einaudi’s music and live shows offer something meditative, a private space away from distraction.
“Listening to live music, everyone can be connected to one sound, but everyone is also able to be alone in the experience, and wander in their thoughts,” he says. “Listening to this album is a matter of perception. It offers possibility of thinking about the same ideas with a different perspective. For me, it’s a work about how we change, and how we come to see our lives in a different way, over time.”
He hasn’t written the seventh record yet – he’s giving the ideas some more space to mature. “I didn’t want to create a product,” he explains. “I wanted the music to have the vibe of a sketch, drawn for the first time.” That’s certainly true of A Sense Of Symmetry, whose light melody works like rain on snow, and Fox Tracks, as painterly as a 21st-century Debussy prelude.
With its multiple versions, the project recalls an earlier age in rock and classical recording, when music had a greater freedom of form, with long instrumental interludes, and live albums.
Einaudi will play – appropriately – seven nights at the Barbican in August. In its live incarnation, the piece will be performed as he originally conceived it – one continual work, without breaks and movements. It’s another realisation of a long-held dream, for a composer who is currently writing an opera with the Irish novelist Colm Toibin.
“In live performance, we won’t be stopping,” Einaudi smiles: unless, as so often happens at classical concerts, people start clapping between songs…
Ludovico Einaudi, piano
Luminous, emotive, effortlessly lyrical and always supremely refined the music and performance of Ludovico Einaudi have attracted an ever growing audience over the last two decades whose diversity and devotion are without parallel. He has released a series of chart-topping albums with sales of over a million copies, sells out the most prestigious concert halls worldwide, composed a string of award-winning film scores and routinely tops audience polls becoming an internet phenomenon. With a unique musical alchemy that draws on elements of classical, rock, electronica and world musics he has rendered traditional ideas of genre and audience divide obsolete and become not only one of the best known composers in the world today but almost certainly the best loved too.
Ludovico was born in Turin, Italy and trained as a classical composer and pianist at the Milan Conservatorio before continuing his studies with Luciano Berio, one of the most important composers of the twentieth century avant-garde. His career began with a series of prestigious commissions for institutions such as the USA’s Tanglewood Festival and Paris’ IRCAM but he turned away from what seemed a glittering classical career to forge his own musical path, giving him the freedom to reconcile his wider-ranging influences.
It was a bold strategy but one quickly rewarded, when Ludovico’s electric harp suite ‘Stanze’ (1997) was first played on BBC Radio the switchboard jammed with listeners. It was a similar story with his next release ‘Le Onde’ (1998), a solo piano cycle he performed himself. A listener-organised campaign made it Ludovico’s breakthrough and a permanent fixture atop the Classic FM charts. This upswell of grass roots activity, snowballing with the onset of the internet and social media, has allowed Ludovico to build a uniquely close relationship directly with his audience.
‘Le Onde’ also ignited Ludovico’s career in Film & TV music and he has since composed many award-winning scores including ‘Doctor Zhivago’ (2002) and ‘Sotto Falso Nome’ (2004) which also became successful albums in their own right. In recent years Shane Meadows’ acclaimed film ‘This Is England’ (2006) and its television sequel ‘This Is England ‘86’ (2010) have brought a BAFTA nomination for Ludovico and introduced his music to a huge new audience, Countless television programmes feature his music and the ad world has incorporated it in campaigns for brands including American Airlines, Vodafone, Sony Blu-ray and John Lewis.
Ludovico built on the impact of ‘Le Onde’ with a series of albums notable for their exuberant experimentation. ‘Eden Roc’ (1999) saw an array of guest musicians and instruments ranging from electric guitar to the Armenian duduk. ‘I Giorni’ (2001) deepened this engagement with world music in Ludovico’s second collection for solo piano. His ‘best of’ collection from these first four albums ‘Echoes: The Einaudi Collection’ (2003) has since sold more than 100,000 copies.
As Ludovico’s fame grew, his concert schedule naturally grew along with it and became an increasingly important part of his life. It immediately led to two new albums, Diario Mali (2005), a collaboration with kora virtuoso Ballaké Sissoko and his first live solo album ‘La Scala Concert 03.03.03’ (2003), recorded in his adopted city of Milan.
The release of ‘Una Mattina’ (2004) saw more ‘firsts’, it was Ludovico’s debut album on new and current record label Universal and also his most ‘classical’ to date. Largely written for solo piano, it leapt to the top of the UK Classical album chart and gave him his first sold-out UK tour.
Now one of the most popular composers in the UK and throughout Europe, at home Ludovico’s reputation scaled even loftier heights and thus on May 26th, 2005 in Rome, Ludovico Einaudi was awarded the ‘Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana’ (or ‘OMRI’) the senior order of Knighthood bestowed by the Italian Republic.
The stage was set for ‘Divenire’ (2007) his most musically ambitious album yet and his greatest commercial success to date. ‘Divenire’ gathered many of the musical ‘streams’ that had flowed through Ludovico’s career and expanded on them with the help of The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and a battery of digital effects.
On release it became a phenomenon, topping classical charts throughout Europe and crashing the Italian pop charts. With sales in excess of 300,000 copies and a BRIT awards ‘Album of the Year’ nomination, Ludovico embarked on his biggest tour yet, 80 dates across Europe. One was captured for his second live album ‘Live In Berlin’ (2008) and it all culminated at a memorable concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
With people around the globe now clamoring to see him Ludovico became a permanent fixture on the road, traveling to new audiences in India, Japan and the USA. Along the way he formed a collaboration with Robert Lippock of post-rock band ‘To Rococo Rot’ and the results would be heard in two albums released in 2009, one featuring Ludovico as ‘band member’, the other as a solo artist.
First was ‘Cloudland’ (2009) the debut from ‘Whitetree’ - comprising Ludovico on piano, Robert Lippok on electronics, and Robert’s brother Ronald Lippok on drums - which has a sunny African feel amid the cutting-edge electronics and percussion.
‘Nightbook’ (2009) Ludovico’s seventh solo album was a perfect contrast. Meditative and introspective it charts an inward voyage through dreams and the shadows of the psyche with evocative use of electronics. Ludovico calls it his ‘Dark Side of The Moon’ and though challenging, it too found immediate resonance with his audience who once again took Ludovico to the summit of the charts and back into the concert halls.
The ‘Nightbook’ tour produced ‘The Royal Albert Hall Concert’ (2010) a double CD and DVD documenting Ludovico’s concert at the venue in March 2010. Drawing on every part of a now distinguished career, it shows a composer and performer at the very height of his creative powers.
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