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A pianist on top of the world

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Last fall Ludovico Einaudi became a superstar. He was already the most important neoclassical composer on the planet. Driven by a TikTok trend, he is now the most listened to classical pianist in the world. A look at the Italian phenomenon that in the next few days will hold a concert in Quebec and three in Montreal.

Posted yesterday at 9:00 am

Alexandre Vigneault

Alexandre Vigneault
The print

A classical pianist

Introduced to the piano by his mother, daughter of a pianist in turn, Ludovico Einaudi first trained in Turin, his hometown, before continuing his studies at the Milan Conservatory with Luciano Berio and perfecting himself with Karlheinz Stockhausen. . He devoted himself, since his beginnings, to the composition of ballets, orchestral works or for various ensembles. From the beginning he tried to produce the maximum impression with a minimal performance, which still characterizes his music, which is cheap and in particular articulated around repetitive motifs.


PHOTO SUPPLIED BY ALLIANCE FILMS

Omar Sy and François Cluzet inside Untouchablereleased in 2012

Unveiled by the cinema

Ludovico Einaudi never set an obstacle: he collaborated in particular with the Malian kora Ballaké Sissoko and the Armenian duduk Djivan Gasparyan. However, it is the music on the screen that will take him out of the shadows: in 1998 he wrote the music for the film April by Nanni Moretti and, in 2002, that of a revival of Doctor Zhivago which points this out in the United States. He will compose in the wake of the films They are still there (by Casey Affleck, with Joaquin Phoenix) and above all Untouchable (with Omar Sy and François Cluzet) which gave his career a real boost – kind of like Amelia Poulain for Yann Tiersen.

Play less, hear more

From Luciano Berio, Ludovico Einaudi learned a lesson in particular: making music linked to emotions. He ended up concentrating his composing art around his piano and favoring an essential approach. “I was also listening to Miles Davis, who left a lot of silence between the notes, he confided last April to Paris match. This is what I wanted to do. His music is reflective, but there is nothing intellectual about his approach. According to him, this helps to make him attractive to as many people as possible.





Alone on his ice floe

His immense success divides people and places Ludovico Einaudi on the fringes of the classical music circuits. In an interview with The print, last year, pianist and composer Alain Lefèvre lashed out at his repetitive “tounettes” which he associated with elevator music and criticized his Italian counterpart for “being filmed on a glacier playing the piano that a 4 year old boy could compose “. He was referring to Elegy for the Arctic, which Ludovico Einaudi performed in Norway for a Greenpeace awareness campaign. His vision is diametrically opposed to that of the millions of admirers of the Italian pianist, which an Internet user summarized as follows in the video shot on the ice: “Simplicity and beauty, but with a complex message behind it. ”

Underwater

underwater, Ludovico Einaudi’s latest album, was released in January. Yes, it’s a containment album. For the composer, it is a sort of “detoxified” diary of the imperatives of former life, of oppressive consumerism. “This period was like living in an earthly paradise, he told the Italian newspaper The Republic. I felt like when I was 18, when I didn’t know what my future was going to be like. “This year he has embarked on a tour that will take him around the planet, to places that are probably even bigger than before as he is now a star of… TikTok.

Billions of streams

Cinema brought Ludovico Einaudi out of the shadows, but it was social media that pushed him into the stratosphere. Teenagers know neither the name nor the face of the Italian composer who is old enough to be their grandfather. Many of them, however, recognize his piece Experience right from the start. This was at the heart of a trend that went viral last fall, an influence that has rebounded on streaming platforms. His ratings have skyrocketed since then. On Spotify, Experience it had amassed 230 million streams by mid-June, almost as much hung up by Madonna (251 million plays) e Run up that hill by Kate Bush (265 million). her piece White clouds supported nearly 284 million streams. That’s certainly not what Ludovico Einaudi had in mind when he was trying to get the maximum effect with the minimum of music, but he shouldn’t complain.

In concert: Grand Théâtre de Québec, 30 June; Maison symphonique (solo), 2 July; Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier on 3 and 4 July.

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