Ludovico Einaudi

Divenire

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It had to happen -- given the impressive commercial performance of minimalist music in classical-unfriendly America, some European artist was sure to try to capitalize on the trend and bring minimalism to the middle-of-the-road European market. Enter Ludovico Einaudi: composer, pianist, and favorite of the programmers at Britain's crossover radio phenomenon, Classic FM. Divenire presents a selection of his works, some for solo piano and others backed by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. They're artfully done, stepping up to the line of pure schlock but not crossing over, and using the simplicity of minimalist patterns to rope audiences into something that's actually slightly different. A typical Ludovico (he tends to use just the first name) musical period involves a repetitive pattern with simple harmonies that Philip Glass would have been happy enough with in its original form. But Ludovico almost immediately amplifies it, bringing in easy harmonic motion, building an uncomplicated kind of intensity, layering on the strings if they're present -- and promising a big, cinematic emotional payoff. But the payoff never comes -- the music just keeps going, and the listener is left to coast along on what is apparently for many listeners an emotional high. There are 12 selections on the album, each of moderate length and each moderate in every other way. It may be that this musical antidepressant will succeed just as brilliantly in other countries as it has in Britain (and presumably Italy), for it doesn't quite resemble anything anyone else has come up with. But to claim that it has anything important to say would be a stretch.

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