Italian pianist Ludovico Einaudi, grandson of an early president of postwar Italy and student of Luciano Berio, has at times used either his first or his last name solo. His music is a bit difficult to pin down, for it treads up to the lines of minimalism, new age, and pop piano without quite going over any of them. It depends on repeated, slowly shifting piano figures but is too grand to be really minimalist. Stress reduction and contemplativeness are the chief virtues ascribed to it by its admirers, but it doesn't have the improvisatory jazz basis of American new age music. And though individual junctures might sound like passages from Elton John, the music tends to stop short of pop emotional payoffs and go off in a new direction. This generic slipperiness is the key to Einaudi's appeal, which seems set to expand to the U.S.: as in the days of old, where recorded music was conceived of primarily as an aid to selling live concert tickets, In a Time Lapse comes stickered with an American tour schedule. Should you try it out? Einaudi has the odd combination of being original without being especially challenging; his music sort of lies there. But this release may well be a good place to start. Its most noticeable new feature is a light overlay of pop electronics not present on Einaudi's solo piano and piano-and-orchestra music. It actually works well, lending rhythmic and textural variety to the beginnings of each piece. The music soon enough progresses into chord arpeggios on Einaudi's piano, but he has the opportunity to apply his simple musical logic to a variety of moods. This, too, sets the music apart from new age models. In short, who knows? Even if crossover is not your bag, you may find yourself drawn by this. Or maybe you just want something that will relax you in freeway traffic. Einaudi could work either way.
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Review by James Manheim