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Of all the composers to have ever entered the Classic FM Hall of Fame, Ludovico Einaudi is probably the most contentious.
For every person who adores his minimalist melodies, there’s someone else who likens them to an A-level composition project and simply cannot fathom their appeal. But, whatever your personal views on the contemporary Italian composer’s piano music, there’s no doubt that he has a unique ability to reach a large audience with his brand of laid-back, repetitive tunes.
Le Onde (‘The Waves’) was Einaudi’s first big hit, and it’s also the title track from his first major album, released in 1996. It takes as its inspiration the Virginia Woolf novel The Waves and the undulating, hypnotic melody evokes images of the rhythms and patterns of the ocean.
In his native Italy, Einaudi is held up as an art-house composer, while in the UK his music is regarded as being ‘classical crossover’. The continued popularity of Le Onde proves that Einaudi has succeeded in connecting with a large number of people and the uniqueness of his success should make us wary of pigeon-holing him within such vague and all-embracing terminology.
Ludovico Einaudi (piano). Sony BMG: 74321 397022.
Illustration: Mark Millington