Ludovico Einaudi

Nightbook

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Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi describes his album Nightbook in this way: "A night-time landscape. A garden faintly visible under the dull glow of the night sky. A few stars dotting the darkness above, shadows of the trees all around. Light shining from a window behind me. What I can see is familiar, but it seems alien at the same time. It's like a dream -- anything may happen." Although such language may sound like it has little if anything to do with music, it communicates the mood of this album as well as can be done with words. Consisting of chamber works for various combinations of classical and modern instruments (violin, viola, cello, live electronics, vibraphone, frame drums, electric bass, acoustic guitar, etc.), Nightbook succeeds most fully when it embraces that mood of shadowy mystery: pieces like "The Snow Prelude N. 2" and the almost pointillistic "The Planets" use spacious arrangements and relatively minimal melodic foundations to create deceptively simple-sounding soundscapes of ravishing beauty. When Einaudi tries to rock out, the results are a bit shakier: "Lady Labyrinth" suffers from blocky rhythms and a simplistic, rather than simple, chord progression -- it ends up sounding like your uncle the piano professor trying to identify with the younger generation's music. The vast majority of these pieces are spectacularly lovely, though, even as they gently deceive the listener with surface simplicity.

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