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Sample Track 1:
"Life" from In a Time Lapse
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"Experience" from In a Time Lapse
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Ludovico Einaudi, In a Time Lapse (Ponderosa) The Fullest Moments: Alt-Classical Composer and Pianist Ludovico Einaudi Captures the Emotional Pulse of Experience on In a Time Lapse and Live

U.S. and Canadian tour, May 2013

Time contracts and expands, creating a space for greater depth, greater feeling. It can plod by, or rush in a swift, meaningless blur.

Italian alt-classical composer Ludovico Einaudi began contemplating time’s qualities as he reflected on his life and on the writings of Henry David Thoreau. “In Walden, Thoreau describes the sounds he hears in the woods, in his cabin, in great detail,” Einaudi explains. “Those sounds, and the different impression of time he expresses, stuck with me, as I traveled and performed and began to compose new pieces.”

These pieces became In a Time Lapse (Ponderosa, 2013), Einaudi’s critically acclaimed new album that shows he, like Thoreau, knows how to listen closely and deeply to intimate seconds and moments, transforming them into pensive, richly arranged instrumental works. Einaudi’s compositions will find new iterations live, as he and his ensemble tours the U.S and Canada. this spring, including stops in Montreal, Toronto, New York, DC, Philadelphia, Chicago, Vancouver, Boulder CO, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

Primarily a pianist, Einaudi draws on lush strings, subtle but intriguing electronic elements (“Waterways”), and even the pulse of Southern Italian tarantella traditions (“Experience”), to create pieces that resonate profoundly. Built from deceptively simple musical motifs, Einaudi builds drama and intensity, clarity of sound and vibrant meaning.

These moments resonate powerfully live, thanks in part to Einaudi’s ensemble of top string players, live electronics, and traditional instruments like the kalimba (thumb piano): “Live, there is something that that grows from concert to concert,” notes Einaudi. “After a while the music gets to a deeper level. There is a sort of fusion between the musicians that becomes fantastic. When I tour with a new album, I always feel there is something more emerging, the possibility of more freedom in the way I play the music.”

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Long appreciated by European audiences (Einaudi was knighted in Italy) and a group of stalwart American fans, listeners who span generations, Einaudi is finally coming into his own in the U.S.—and breaking into the mainstream.

With a sound and approach that manages to be both heady and down-to-earth, both erudite and accessible, Einaudi can top charts while remaining utterly dedicated to the feelings, ideas, and processes that yield striking, thought-provoking music. Born into a family with strong ties to northern Italy’s cultural and literary scene (his father edited and worked with the likes of Italo Calvino), Einaudi gained his strong conservatory training under respected experimental composer Luciano Berio, whose open ears impacted Einaudi greatly. After several years working in traditional forms (chamber and orchestral pieces), the young composer decided to explore a different approach.

Engaging with pop and roots music from around the world (Einaudi has collaborated with everyone from Malian master Ballake Sissoko to electronica duo To Rococo Rot), as well as European classical traditions, Einaudi’s works, though instrumentals, almost feel like songs. The pieces hint at scenes, images, sensations, all while keeping a compact, taut format that maintains a high level of technical finesse. Though deeply informed, Einaudi’s music leaves ample space for listeners’ hearts and imaginations, a space created by the composer’s own intense relationship to sound and art.

“I need to have that deep connection to everything I do, because it gives me no satisfaction to write music just because it’s music,” he reflected in a recent interview. “It has to move me emotionally or spiritually, as well as the intended audience.”

His latest pieces take a variety of perspectives on the experience of time, and how that experience shapes our lives. More than an exercise in sappy nostalgia or dry philosophy, this experience is expressed via tempo, naturally, tapping into the slowness or rapidity of particular sensations and states of mind. “When you are really present, everything moves very slowly. When you are in the woods, say, you have the little movement of the leaves and the trees around you,” Einaudi muses, describing the interlocking, independently moving melodic elements of “Walk,” which mimic the overlapping, tiny motions of stirring leaves.

The shifts in time and dynamics translate into enthralling moments on stage. “In concert, I bring the tempo of the music to a place where it’s almost stopped, when it’s very close to silence, to peace,” Einaudi says. “Other moments, life comes pouring back, and the music becomes very emotional and powerful, and I share the emotion with the musicians.” And with the audience: tears are a common occurrence during Einaudi’s concerts.

“When you live certain wonderful moments in your life, you don’t realize how precious they are,” says Einaudi. “It’s not just about looking back and saying, ‘Oh, it was so nice back then.’ It’s about bringing back the energy to where life is now—and to live life in a full, complete way.”