Ludovico Einaudi,
(Decca, 2006)

After listening to Ludovico Einaudi's latest CD, you'd be excused for thinking that "divenire" means "to be divine" in Italian. It doesn't, but it easily could. Evocative, elegant and beautiful enough to weep over, Divenire ("to become") is music to lose yourself within.

If you've never heard of Einaudi, an Italian composer/pianist whose music might be alternately described as minimalism with actual melody, neo-classical instrumental or just plain awesome, it's probably because, although popular in Europe and the UK where he is played on the classical stations, he inexplicably hasn't made it across the pond yet.

His past CDs have included gorgeously understated solo piano albums and orchestral film scores; Divenire falls somewhere between the two with its lush combination of Einaudi's fluid piano, the soaring strings of the Liverpool Philharmonic and the subtle electronic touches that provide a modern polish and edge to the whole. No disclaimers or qualifiers: this is the most impressive CD I've heard this year.

Because the majority of the tracks are ambient, meditative pieces that reward close and repeated listening, the fully orchestrated tracks "Divenire" and "Primavera" are immediate standouts. Both take simple, repetitive melodies and elaborate upon them, changing tempo, instrumentation and harmony to produce a remarkable range of sounds and emotions. From a well-mannered piano opening, "Divenire" builds into a climactic union between piano and strings, ebbs away into a temporary lull, and ends on an exhilarating high note. From a similarly subdued, waltz-like beginning, "Primavera" explodes into intense string sequences that consciously pay tribute to Vivaldi while remaining unmistakably Einaudi.

But if these passionate tour-de-forces are the undeniable highlights, the quieter tracks provide foils to their drama and are impressive in their own rights. Two solo piano pieces, the pensive, moody "Monday" and the gently wandering "Ultremare," recall Einaudi's earlier CDs and continue to showcase his skill as a pianist and composer. The faint, pulsing electronic loops in the enigmatic opener "Uno" and "Ascolta" give them an edgy, dark modernity. The closing track "Svanire" (appropriately "to vanish") is an exquisitely melancholy and bittersweet farewell. It is the only track on the CD that does not include Einaudi's piano playing, but a sensuous cello solo proves to be a more than adequate substitute.

As with most film scores and minimalist music, Divenire is not for those who can't stand repetition, though the tracks for the most part succeed in being sufficiently individual without disrupting the unity of the CD.

At 75 minutes long, Divenire is a beautifully arranged and powerfully atmospheric recording to write, draw or daydream to -- and unlike many film scores, has no filler tracks, sound cues or culminating pop melodies. If you liked Michael Nyman's score to The Piano or ever wished Philip Glass would compose a CD you could listen to straight through, you owe it to your ears to check out Ludovico Einaudi. Befriend a Brit, wheedle your European relatives or take the easy way out and pay the Amazon import fees: Divenire is sweep-you-off-your-feet-good. Don't just take my word for it -- clips can be heard at the artist's website,

by Jennifer Mo
28 April 2007

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