The piano has always been my favorite instrument to listen to. What I love about it is how many different tunes the instrument can produce, and one need not go further than an array of all-time greats like Johann Sebastian Bach, Keith Jarrett, Billy Joel and Jack’s Mannequin (aka Andrew McMahon) as evidence of this truth. To my amateur ear, that these people can each make the instrument sound entirely their own is nothing short of magical.
With that said, in recent years my thinking on this matter had become increasingly calcified, as I believed I’d heard every combination of sounds a piano could generate. Lucky for me, I was disabused of this mistaken notion when I stumbled upon a recent edition of NPR’s terrific video series Tiny Desk Concert and was introduced to Ludovico Einaudi. Before the video had even finished, not only had Einaudi made a new fan, but his genius on the piano caused me to simply sit and reflect on my life. Truly, there’s no better pleasure than a welcome surprise.
Although I adore vocals in music, when I hear a musician express themselves solely through their instrument, it tends to connect much deeper in my soul. Perhaps with no other focus aside from playing their instrument, a true master can more easily access the sounds that resonate within human consciousness. Perhaps my sample size is too small.
While Einaudi’s sound is enchanting when he performs solo, he also plays a lot of music with accompaniment, usually from members of the string section. This works well because the grouping features many instruments that also specialize in triggering deep emotions, and thusly creates a powerful combination with the piano.
As is evident by now, it’s difficult for me to specifically articulate exactly why I’ve become smitten with Einaudi’s music. What I can say for sure is that listening to him play causes me to feel, and it does so in a variety of ways. His rhythm and sound are also simultaneously utterly familiar and totally foreign, and this juxtaposition will remain mysterious to me until I can listen to a lot more of his music. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of it.
My concert bucket list has officially grown one line longer.