The sound of theatre seats flapping back upright filled the Theatre Royal as the audience rose to their feet and filled the space with rapturous applause and a standing ovation. Ludovico Einaudi, the composer and solo pianist, placed his hands together in prayer and bowed low for us after playing a spell-binding performance of his hauntingly beautiful and relaxingly minimalist music.
Two and a half hours earlier, the Italian pianist had walked calmly across the stage dressed in black and taken his seat behind a slick black piano. The theatre was a void of silence, punctuated slowly by the twinkling first notes of ‘Snow Prelude’ from his recent album ‘Nightbook’. The captivated audience then followed him as he led us through several pieces from the album, filling the theatre with the dreamy fluency of his music and creating stillness in an otherwise hectic world.
This was broken only when Einaudi made a couple of brief pauses to explain the inspiration and personal meanings behind his music. ‘Nightbook’, he explained, was designed to represent the mass darkness of the night, but to portray it as positive rather than negative. He also spoke of a recent concert he played in northern Italy, where he was moved by the stillness of a river flowing smoothly down through the mountains. He then produced an i-Pod, and explained that this would play the harmonics of the piece without ‘the attack of the key’ while he played over the top, creating an unforgettably calming and haunting atmosphere.
The enchanting performance ended with the spectacular ‘Nuvole Bianche’ from his album Una Mattina, which was recently used in Channel 4’s stirring This Is England ’86. Following the audience’s frenzied applause he returned to play one last night-time piece from ‘Nightbook’ – a most fitting end to this magical evening concert.