Einaudi (I) Giorni
Here’s a fourth disc of Ludovico Einaudi courtesy of BMG Ricordi. In contrast to the ensemble arrangements of ‘Eden Roc’ (8/02), ‘I Giorni’ strips Einaudi’s ruminations down to solo piano. The inspiration for the album came from a journey Einaudi made with Toumani Diabate, a renowned kora (21-stringed lute from West Africa) player, through the Malinese capital Bamako: on the radio, they heard a song about the killing of a hippopotamus beloved of the village inhabitants. That song, Mali Sajio, forms the basis of the Melodia Africana which recurs in four of the 14 tracks – giving a tenuous thematic focus to a disc whose prevailing mood is one of sorrow recollected in tranquility.
It would be easy to dismiss this album for its lack of musical variety or stylistic ambition – though Einaudi sustains his etiolated ambiance with an understatement that makes other practitioners seem glib and self-conscious. The problem in assessing this music comes with deciding whether its intrinsic qualities derive from the notes themselves, or whether its emotional affect stems from the listener’s emotional susceptibilities. Certainly the largely unvarying figuration and dynamics smooth over any real semblance of change across the 60 minutes, melodic ideas coming and going much as indistinct variants on a barely emergent theme.
Einaudi’s playing conveys the bittersweet detachment of his music in full measure, enhanced by a recording which sets the piano at a gentle remove. Try the brooding minimalism of the title track, or the wistful melodic elaboration of Canzone Africana IV: it could be that once you’ve heard this latest Einaudi album, you’ll want to explore further.