Orb & Sceptre William Walton Download 'Orb & Sceptre' on iTunes
The Italian composer and pianist is no stranger to the Classic BRITs, and this year he's up for two - it's time to discover his magical world through the fantastic album, In A Time Lapse.
An eerie, atmospheric beginning makes you think that perhaps you've put the wrong CD on, but before long we're eased back into that gorgeous Einaudi sound world. Soft strings and the most minimal of accompaniments is all it takes to set the scene here before we get into the album proper.
This is the first time we hear that oh-so-familiar circulating piano, but it's been treated to the subtlest of electronic manipulations. It steadily draws you in, building in intensity with a throbbing bass accompaniment, before settling back down to where it started.
It's perhaps a little ambitious to think that Einaudi could encapsulate the song's title inside four and a half minutes, but he has a good go. Magical xylophone kicks it off before the piano comes in with a simple melody, but it really opens up when the strings arrive about a third of the way through.
Proving that simple titles can hint at nothing of the emotional complexity underneath, this plain-named number doesn't so much sound like walking down the street as it does walking through an unnerving, otherworldly landscape.
This is possibly the most romantic and memorable piece on the whole of In A Time Lapse, played with incredible grace and poise. It's proof that sometimes all you really need is a piano and a knack for setting the scene which, in this case, matches its nocturnal title perfectly.
It's nothing to do with the Snow Patrol song, but it does share with it that grandstanding emotional intent. A droning piano note pins the whole thing together exquisitely before the strings arrive once again to flesh out the piano's melody.
There's a fantastic change of pace near the beginning of this piece that lets scratchy cellos almost turn into percussion instruments while the piano and strings grow wildly around it with bass drum thudding along in the background. Amazingly atmospheric work, especially when turned up loud.
Bleeding directly into Orbits from the pulsing rhythm of the previous track, Einaudi takes time to cool off here, for a minute at least. But before long, he's driving those rhythms again and we're back in rollicking form. A little bit of violin vibrato and xylophone bring immense colour here, but it's all about maintaining that restless atmosphere.
Finally, though, the intensity stops and we're back into safe territory. The tempo slows right down, and we're left with only Einaudi's piano swirling around on its own.
This is the longest track on the whole of In A Time Lapse, and the one that seems to fit the album's title the best. Repeated patterns and the return of that throbbing bass are the main elements here, along with some beautifully judged string chords - as well as the continued triangle hits, which sound strangely like an approaching train. Watch out for the thrilling climax, too: if you think Einaudi's all about relaxing, then think again!
Another perfectly judged string arrangement kicks things off here, hypnotically slow but full of intent. It takes Einaudi's piano line to make sense of it and turn the piece into something resembling the Waterways of the title.
As the album heads into the final straight, Einaudi unleashes one of the most lyrical moments of his career so far. Lullaby-esque and backed with what sounds like the drone of repeatedly-plucked harp, it's an example of what he does so effortlessly.
Now that Einaudi has finished experimenting with noise and large textures, the atmosphere returns to a kind of dark serenity here.
The experience of this album is quite the roller coaster, which is all the more incredible given the limited musical palate that he affords himself. On the album's closing track, we hear a fair summation of the whole lot, the thick textures of strings and piano combined, but mixed with the composer's signature swirling arpeggios. Aptly, it finishes with just that sound alone.