Ludovico Einaudi at the Orpheum Theatre 10/10/17
There is a piano in the middle of the stage. In the background is a plethora of the most exotic instruments you could imagine. It’s all meant to be used during Ludovico Einaudi’s performance, the great Italian pianist who has been touring with five musicians – five musicians that help him to create the perfect setting.
On Tuesday (Oct. 10) at Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre, the lights go out and shadows appear on stage. A recognizable one walks towards the piano. It’s Einaudi. You don’t need to see his face and you won’t see it until further into the show, but he is there, on time, with no introduction, no preamble and no opening band.
A soft light illuminates Einaudi and his piano as he starts to play. The composition’s name is “Petricor,” a piece with a slow beginning that gradually accelerates to turn into a worrisome melody. To help the musical expression, the stage starts to fill with images created by light that move at the pace of the sounds. It’s a combination that makes every song fundamentally different from the previous one.
Perhaps the best example of the kind of contrast was best exemplified by “Newton’s Cradle” and “Four Dimensions.” The first song resembled a storm, with white lights illuminating the stage in a thunderbolt-like manner as the music intensified. The second song, which came right after, used a soft yellow light to accompany its nostalgic melody in what could be called the calm before the storm.
After the fifth song, Einaudi turned to the audience for the first time. There were no words, just a smile and a thankful gesture directed at the cheering crowd. The same crowd that went abruptly silent when he turned and sat back in front of the piano, this time, to play without the help of his band.
Listening to the piano by itself was a completely different experience. There was less saturation. Chord progression and melody took over the scene. It also gave Einaudi the opportunity to play his more minimalistic compositions like “Nuvole Bianche.” It was a delight that got people into a trance.
Halfway through the concert, Einaudi faced the crowd once again for what was becoming some sort of ritual — he would stand with a smile while the audience cheered, only to return to his piano. He was then rejoined by the supporting musicians, which was not surprising after he started to play “Divenire,” a piece that sounds better when accompanied by, among others, a violin.
Near the end, one of the event organizers walked up to Einaudi with a bouquet. It certainly fooled the crowd into thinking the performance was over. However, the theatre lights weren’t turned on after Einaudi and his crew left the stage and so people clapped incessantly until he appeared again.
The concert lasted more than two hours and, in all that time, his only words were “Thank you Vancouver” and the names of the musicians that helped create such a flawless performance. He is not a man of words. He conveys meaning through music and the audience seemed to understand this. Einaudi left the stage waving and the audience bid him farewell with a standing ovation.