Ludovico Einaudi’s Underwater tour packs Perth Concert Hall for Perth Festival, with band and a local cameo

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Three packed houses at the Concert Hall for Perth Festival vouchsafe the hold Italian composer-pianist Ludovico Einaudi has on a global audience, whether for his minimalist style, his blockbuster film scores, or his signature concerts in unusual places.

His latest Australian tour wrapped on Sunday with a solo program drawn from his COVID-era album, Underwater, plus collaborations with Federico Mecozzi (violin and viola), Redi Hasa (cello) and Francesco Arcuri (electronics and percussion).

Water sounds surrounded the audience in darkness for a pregnant pause before a sudden blaze of light introduced Einaudi, modest in appearance and manner.

Launching a gradual build up from a simple exercise he crafted a swelling theme, booming then receding across octaves for Atoms.

Einaudi’s work defies analysis because he is his own genre, though “minimalism” in the style of other late 20th century greats does fit.

Ludovico Einaudi plays his Underwater set on tour across Australia, wrapping at Perth Concert Hall on the weekend.
Camera IconLudovico Einaudi plays his Underwater set on tour across Australia, wrapping at Perth Concert Hall on the weekend. Credit: Joshua San

Here the spectacle was minimalist also: a lone figure picked out by narrow beams of light.

A lilting melody brightened the mood, right hand wavering slightly then cascading down the keyboard, doubling down on bass then levelling out in meditation.

Folkloric figures renewed energy, catching a simple, soothing mood.

Lights shone for brief applause then Einaudi launched again into darkness, each number more an episode than a separate piece.

The sound now was redolent of his many film scores, meandering with meaning. A rippling right hand over strong bass progression changed pace again with determination, then flowed back to ripples.

Applause again, and Einaudi darkened the ambience; the same sense of purpose but more sombre, as if moving to another part of the narrative, dramatic and menacing in its conclusion.

Lights and applause again punctuated the stream before gentle waves, ebbing and flowing evoked light on water, restless yet calming as the backing musicians drifted in; strings straddling the warm tones of the piano like shafts of light bringing relief to the soundscape.

Einaudi, solo, returned to meditative mood before leading in pulsating strings around a jagged, fortissimo attack.

Ludovico Einaudi plays on tour across Australia, wrapping at Perth Concert Hall on the weekend, with Federico Mecozzi (violin and viola), Redi Hasa (cello) and Francesco Arcuri (electronics and percussion).
Camera IconLudovico Einaudi plays on tour across Australia, wrapping at Perth Concert Hall on the weekend, with Federico Mecozzi (violin and viola), Redi Hasa (cello) and Francesco Arcuri (electronics and percussion). Credit: Joshua San

Suddenly becalmed, the trio faded to a single cello note, to be joined by violin in a duet, nursery rhyme-like in its simplicity; echoed in piano and falling away as Einaudi reprised a familiar pattern of cascading melody over rich harmony before fading to chords over insistent bowing.

Piano then expanded through electronic effects and a lute-like sustain; light pouring out into the auditorium and as quickly cutting out again, with another pause for applause.

Warmer light and a stirring in piano with wind effects built a crescendo with electronics and strings; fading back to chords and a reprise of wind and piano.

Repeated, urgent single notes next set a tone for all four musician to converge in a teeming palette, lifting in intensity and foreboding melodrama worthy of a thriller, with another sudden cadence.

Steady beats across the ensemble led in mellow cello solo, joined by violin; morphing to a dance quartet, returning to cello then back to dance.

Another brief pause brought on Fremantle digeridoo player Si Mullumby, with a primal roar, fluttering then deepening to a plangent rumble; joined by piano in bass register then ringing out in bell tones.

Cello chimed in as the harmony grew denser and melody more expansive over percussive beats, lifting to a pounding conclusion and sudden ovation. WA loves a hometown hero.

Einaudi calmed the farm in semi-darkness with a florid, undulating solo and trademark pulse, mixing minor and major modes, waxing lyrical then mysterious before blissing out in the high register

Another piano ballad opening led in strings in a swooning accompaniment to rhythmic solo and effects.

Finally, languid piano and gentle percussion built with strings to a climax, a sudden irresolute cadence and a standing ovation.

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