Ludovico Einaudi – Le Onde

In today’s blog celebrating the piano music of Ludovico Einaudi, I will explore his ground-breaking album “Le Onde” which was released in 1996. Einaudi’s popularity in the UK was mediated by the prevalence of his music on the popular and influential British radio station Classic FM and it immediately drew a huge response from listeners.

Le Onde 1996 (“The Waves”) was inspired by Virginia Woolf’s novel of the same name and was an album comprising 13 tracks. It opens with a short, melodious 16th Century French melody entitled “Canzone Popolare”.

Canzone Popolare: Composed by Ludovico Einaudi and played by John McGuinness

This is followed by the gorgeous title cover song “Le Onde”. Essentially, in this song, Einaudi sets out to explore the ideas behind the waves, time and life. The end result is a highly melodic piece, which successfully captures the rhythm of the waves. The basic melody is constant throughout, but subtly changes at different points, just as one might expect of the waves.

Given the fact that “Le Onde” is one of Einaudi’s early landmark pieces, I leave it to the man himself to play this for you. In my opinion, this is both charming and stylish.

Of the other tracks on the album, my favourite ones are “La Linea Scura” and “Questa Notte”.

“La Linea Scura” (“Dark Line”) refers to the line of the horizon that separates sea and sky. Once again influenced by the writing of Woolf, Einaudi decided to capture in music the description in words by Woolf of the line on the horizon where the clouds meet the sea. I recorded “La Linea Scura” many years ago. I do hope you enjoy it.

La Linea Scura: Composed by Ludovico Einaudi and played by John McGuinness

“Quests Notte“ (“This Night”) is a celebration of the night and was a great favourite when it was released. It is a piece of some complexity. In my opinion, the phrasing of the piece reminds me that, as a young composer, Einaudi played folk guitar. One certainly sees this influence in the writing of this composition, particularly in the opening sections. One hears resonances of the title track and it is perhaps best to view this composition as a richly textured variation on “Le Onde”. He often played this song as a finale piece in some of his early concerts.

Questa Notte: Composed by Ludovico Einaudi and played by John McGuinness

Einaudi attempted to outline his vision of the album with the following words:

“If it were a story it would be set on the seafront of a long beach. A beach without beginning and without end. The story of a man who walks along this shore and perhaps never meets anyone. His gaze lingers occasionally to look at some object or fragment brought from the sea. The footprints of a crab or a solitary seagull. I always take the sand, the sky, some clouds, the sea. Only the waves change, always the same and different, smaller, larger, shorter, longer.”