Ludovico Einaudi – I Giorni (2001)

This album’s title translates as ‘The Days’ in English and was released in 2001. It was the first solo-piano follow-up to ‘Le Onde’ and became an almost instant hit on the popular British radio channel, Classic FM. The album is effectively one long lament, with each piece demonstrating Einaudi’s ability to compose utterly simple yet beguiling melodies.

Later on, the title track ‘I Giorni’ had a lot of interest due to Greg James’ airing in June 2011 on BBC Radio 1. It entered the UK Singles charts at number 32 on 12 June 2011. The solo piano track has also been featured on quite a few adverts for arts and culture programmes. By 2019, it had become Einaudi’s second most streamed single.

Einaudi was inspired to compose ‘I Giorni’ after hearing a twelfth-century folk song that originated in the country of Mali. The song describes the killing of a hippopotamus by a hunter, and the subsequent mourning in the local village [1]. It might seem strange then that so many people today choose this piece for their wedding ceremonies but the melody is so beautiful one can appreciate why this is so.

Two of my other favourites from this album are: ‘Stella del Mattino’ (‘Morning Star’) and ‘Limbo’, the first piece of Einaudi’s music I ever heard! It was inspired in part by Radiohead’s music who were enjoying a great deal of success at the turn of the new century.

‘Stella del Mattino’ composed by Ludovico Einaudi, played by John McGuinness
‘Limbo’ composed by Ludovico Einaudi, played by John McGuinness

[1] https://classicalexburns.com/2019/03/19/ludovico-einaudi-i-giorni-a-touching-lament/

Ludovico Einaudi – Eden Roc (1999)

“Eden Roc” was written in 1999 and established Einaudi as a household name in both Italy and the UK. There are fifteen tracks in all.

Of the album, Einaudi wrote, “Eden Roc is the name of a place on the south coast of France where the writer Francis Scott Fitzgerald lived and where he located the beginning of his novel ‘Tender is the Night’. From that book I partially took the inspiration for Eden Roc …. the idea of an ideal place where you can find your inner balance in the world”.

‘Nefeli’ is my favourite solo-piano track on this album and is very beautiful. According to Greek mythology, Nephele was a cloud nymph created by Zeus from a cloud in the image of Hera. Einaudi dedicated this song to the daughter of a couple he would regularly visit. Ludovico was inspired by her vivaciousness. Although ‘Nefeli’ is Greek for clouds, it reminded Einaudi of sunshine and this is how he viewed the little girl. The music flows so sweetly that it brightens up my day when I hear it. To play it is a magical experience. I recorded it many years ago and I hope you enjoy my rendition.

Nefeli’ composed by Ludovico Einaudi, played by John McGuinness

‘Due Tramonti’ (‘Two Sunsets’) is the first piece of Einaudi I ever played. It is a piece for piano and cello although Einaudi later transcribed it for solo piano. The music was inspired by a story told to Ludovico by his father. Apparently, when his father was driving with a friend, they saw the most beautiful sunset in the Italian hills. Blown away by the stunning act of nature they had just witnessed, his father put his foot down on the pedal and they hurried up the next hill in order to have the luxury of a second viewing. This was the night they saw two sunsets. The beauty of the piano and cello combination is breathtaking. I recorded the piano solo version in 2011. I do hope you like it.

‘Due Tramonti’ composed by Ludovico Einaudi, played by John McGuinness

I love the beautiful lyricism and flow of the track called ‘Julia‘. It conveys a ‘feel’ of the rock melodies prevalent in the early sixties and, consequently, I find it touching and refreshing.

‘Julia’ composed by Ludovico Einaudi, played by John McGuinness

Why not listen to Einaudi’s album “Eden Roc” in its entirety? The music covers a range of moods and feelings and there is a deep sense of friendship among the contributing musicians that emerges through the music.

“Eden Roc” was undoubtedly a major landmark in Einaudi’s career.

Where?

Over the past six months I have written some new piano pieces. These “Songs Without Words” are relatively short and are unashamedly romantic in style.

Each track is a composition in its own right. However, they are connected to each other emotionally and intellectually. They are sincere expressions of my inner world, my “inscape” as it interacts with the “landscape” around me.

As I write this, we are still experiencing the demands of lockdown but, at least, there is a semblance of a return to some kind of normality in the not too distant future.

Music is a wonderful gift of communication and I have been touched throughout the pandemic by the way so many people have danced, sung and played music in order to keep everyone’s spirits high, bring us socially together and provide us with dreams of a better tomorrow.

I rather suspect it will take many years for people to absorb the enormity of the pandemic and its effects on our lives. Slowly but surely we will become less “anaesthetised” to the full social, psychological, cultural and economic damage and gradually awaken to the full horror of the death toll and of a world changed utterly. As with all change, however, it will bring positive outcomes as well. One thing for sure is that we will awaken gradually to a fuller awareness of the fragility of our existence.

I have always believed that communication through music can help us to come to terms with loss and bereavement and begin to dream again. It is in this spirit that I wrote these little pieces of piano music.

The songs have a different feel to my last album “Requiem” (2020). Whereas “Requiem” was about a world of loss and sorrow, hurt and anger, my latest set of songs is about a world of conciliation, new beginnings and tenderness.

“Where?” is a little melody that I found myself whistling. I wrote the melody down and then added a simple chord progression. I don’t do words – I’m useless with lyrics. This annoys me intensely because sometimes my little tunes suggest words and I hear little phrases in my head as I hum the song. As is characteristic of me, I select one of these little phrases as the basis for a title. Funnily enough, “Where?” seems to fit perfectly the sense of searching which I often experience as I walk in the woods.

If you are interested in my little piece “Where?”, it is available on most channels – Spotify, YouTube, Amazon, Apple and many more… click HERE

This is John McGuinness (Spotify Editorial playlist)

Delighted to have my own Editorial Playlist curated by Spotify – featuring a selection of my recordings most of which are my own compositions.

If you have access to Spotify – please add the playlist to your library! This will help get the music to a much wider audience – thanks in advance!

You can listen to a short extract of some of the tracks here:

The Trove Cambridge

Delighted to support The Trove Cambridge with their Crowdfunding campaign and Treasures Box Launch! Love the video and the fact that Steph used my music – Yiruma’s ‘River Flows in You’ from ‘The Wedding Album’.

You can find out more about the Trove Cambridge and the Crowdfunding page HERE . Please donate if you can and take a look at the Rewards!

Click the image to listen to
The Wedding Album by John McGuinness

Happy Burns’ Night 2020

Robert (Rabbie) Burns, the Scottish poet and lyricist, was born on 25 January. 1759. Generally regarded as one of the most influential Scots of all time, his literary work is celebrated throughout the world.

Portrait of Robert Burns, 1787

Burns is regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic Movement and, after his death in 1796, he became a great source of inspiration to the founders of both Liberalism and Socialism. Indeed, it would be true to say that, throughout the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, his work and life have achieved charismatic proportions. Translations of his work are particularly held in high regard in France and Russia.

When I was at school, we studied Burns’ poetry as part of the national school curriculum and, to me, he was as famous as Shakespeare, Keats, Shelley and Wordsworth.

In 2009, he was chosen as the greatest Scot by the Scottish public in a vote run by Scottish Television (STV)

As well as writing original compositions, Burns also collected folk songs from across Scotland, often revising or adapting them. His poem (and song) “Auld Lang Syne” is often sung at Hogmanay (the last day of the year), and “Scots wha hae” served for a long time as an unofficial national anthem of the country.

Other poems and songs of Burns that remain well known across the world today include “A Red, Red Rose”, “ A Man’s a Man for a’ That”, “To a Louse”, “To a Mouse”, “Tam O’Shanter” and the very sad but beautiful “Ae Fond Kiss”

I have chosen my piano solo version of “A Red, Red Rose” to celebrate the life of one of the finest British poets ever to have lived. It is regarded by many to be one of the most charming love songs ever written, full of glorious hyperbole.

A Red Red Rose🌹, Piano Solo by John McGuinness

A Red, Red Rose.

“ O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in june;
O my Luve is like the melodie
That’s sweetly play’d in tune:

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry:

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun:
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only Luve
And fare thee weel, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ it were ten thousand mile.”

Robert Burns

Max Richter Ticks All The Boxes

My first musical thrill of the New Year in 2020 was to listen to Max Richter’s re-imagining of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”, a Christmas gift from my son, Julien. Richter refers to his work as a re-composition and in many ways it is. Although one recognises the more familiar melodies of Vivaldi, it is no mere re-arrangement.

For me, he navigates a difficult pathway between the splendour of the past and the beauty of the modern, in a piece dripping with exhilarating musicality. Right from the beginning, one is flying with the birds in the sky and soaring over an ever-changing landscape of musical images and sounds. Whatever your musical tastes, you will most probably find this a thrilling and fulfilling experience. Richter really does tick all the boxes. Although written some time ago, it is fresh and new and has amazing sound quality.

I highly recommend this Deutsche Grammophon recording (2012) which features Daniel Hope on violin, Raphael Alpermann on harpsichord and the Konserthaus Kammerorchester Berlin, conductor Andre de Ridder. The composer himself is on moog synthesiser.

So why not sit back in a comfortable chair with your favourite drink and be transported, in your imagination, to a world beyond your dreams. Enjoy!

Listen here on Spotify