12 Songs From Home by Ludovico EinaudiRelease date: May 8, 2020
Label: Decca Records
I wouldn’t dare review the extraordinary music of Ludovico Einaudi or profess any complete understanding of it but I can tell you a bit about what it did and it always does to me.
During the weeks of forced lockdown, homebound music lovers have been relying more than usual on recordings and streaming music. Music that uplifts our souls, creates connections and makes us travel while we are not allowed to. My quarantine playlist has just got another pure gem coming from Italy, the place of my heart, where the legendary pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi released a new project titled 12 Songs From Home.
12 Songs From Home is a 12-track digital collection recorded on his iPhone at home during the peak of Italy’s lockdown and includes some of the most famous pieces from Einaudi’s career such as ‘Oltremare’, ‘Nuvole Bianche’, ‘Berlin Song’ and ‘Elegy for the Arctic’, released in 2018 to highlight Greenpeace’s climate change campaign.
In March this year, Einaudi released an ‘At Home’ video for Greenpeace on his Facebook page, dedicated to his fans: to those “who stay at home in order to fight the health emergency”, and to those who continue to campaign for action on climate change around the world. This video has since achieved over 250,000 views and maybe this success in reaching people inspired Einaudi to record this special set on his iPhone.
As the musician stated, he “recorded 12 Songs From Home between March and April 2020 during the peak of Italy’s lockdown. In March I started to play live concerts regularly on social media. Switching on my phone to connect for 30-40 minutes with the world has been a beautiful and intimate alternative to the spring tour that I regrettably had to postpone.”
I imagine a house in the heart of Turin, soft curtains engaged in a slow dance with the wind, and the notes coming from the open windows reaching the neighbours sitting on their balconies wondering what’s going to happen next and surprisingly caressed by the kindness of the music coming from Einaudi’s home.
Now everybody can enjoy this marvellous playlist and pressing play is like opening a door to a landscape of extraordinary radiance. The pianist’s technique is exact and clear, almost translucent. The beauty of his notes blossom in volume and make your surroundings flourish while humanity goes in temporary retreat. Listening to ‘Oltremare’ is like hearing Einaudi’s most intimate thoughts and I try to imagine that wonderful hidden life he has access to.
Even more sublime is what happens next: ‘Elegy for the Arctic’ is a piece one doesn’t forget listening. Einaudi premiered this beautiful song in in the breathtakingly beautiful surroundings of Wahlenbergbreen glacier in Svalbard, Norway, and it’s a poem about the nature and what humans are doing to it. It’s ambient and contemplative music and while I get lost into it, I can’t help but wonder how come so few notes can have such an impact. And I often need to listen to some parts of Einaudi’s works over and over because of their sheer quality and complexity and depth.
A listener, me included of course, is changed by any song but here, with Einaudi’s music, the alteration I felt is fundamental. A few artists have this power on me and, to remain in the classical music world, Einaudi is to me at the level of Clint Mansell or Olafur Arnalds, just to mention some of my fav artists that manage to create such an emotional impact.
In this particular time of my life where tragedy as shifted my heart more than any dream I could ever see come true, this is music of consolation, that’s helping me creating what doesn’t exist. It paints a world where I feel safe and time doesn’t exist or, better, where past, present and future are just a sequence of nows.
‘Nuvole Bianche’ is the reunion with your best friend, with that part of you you’ve lost and you are missing. I’ve heard it countless of time over the years but every time is a new experience. “Music exalts each joy, allays each grief, expels diseases, soften every pain, subdue the rage of poison, and the plague” wrote John Armstrong in his Book IV: Einaudi couldn’t have chosen a better gift during this unsettling period.
‘Le Onde’ has always been one of my favourite pieces of music and it’s enlightening my profoundly altered temporal state. The pulse and emotional nuances of his compositions are remarkable and utterly unique and I feel the linguistic limit of what ‘High Heels’ convey.
“This new release is the memory of those home live concerts, my memory of this time, the memory of a strange and new atmosphere that we won’t forget.”
Hopefully the world won’t forget.
12 Songs From Home is out digitally on Decca Records with artwork drawn by the composer.