Piano-Heaven Award Winner:

The Calm of Einaudi

Christine Rayner plays the music of Ludovico Einaudi

Attuned Heart Recordings

 2011

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Many readers of this review will have experienced the pain, the trauma, the ordeal of cancer, either directly themselves or vicariously through a loved one. Christine Rayner is no exception, contracting breast cancer as she did in 2000. Happily, the former Primary School teacher has now recovered and since discovering the piano music of Ludovico Einaudi, has been giving recitals of his music to audiences to help alleviate stress and facilitate calmness, as well as generating funds to aid vital research.

 

The rise in popularity of Italian pianist Ludovico Einaudi is well documented. His music found its way onto the popular and influential British radio station 'Classic FM' around the turn of the millennium, and immediately drew a huge response from listeners. The rest, as they say, is history.

 

Christine Rayner regrets she was not one of those listeners at the time. She did not discover Einaudi's sublime compositions until 2009 when she first came across his signature piece, 'Le Onde' (The Waves). "On first hearing the beautiful 'Le Onde' in 2009, I was captivated. This piece touched me deeply, and playing his music has since become a vital part of my life". Christine feels that the relaxing qualities of Einaudi's music would have been of great help to her during that traumatic time: "The calming influence of many of Einaudiís works creates for me a sanctuary in which the stresses of daily life have no place. His music would undoubtedly have inspired and uplifted me during the dark months of my chemotherapy eleven years ago, and I regret that it was unknown to me at that time."

 

This CD features fourteen of Einaudi's most well-known compositions taken from various albums spanning his career. Christine's interpretations are faithful to the originals, retaining their natural beauty and melodic appeal, with subtle differences to the discerning ear. The album has the blessing of the master himself who states, "It's very nice when music can help other people, and I wish all the best to Christine Rayner's beautiful project." Fans of Einaudi will doubtless enjoy these solo-piano versions of their favourite recordings as much as new listeners will be mesmerized by their minimalistic beauty.

 

The album opens with 'Nuvole Blanche' (White Clouds) from the original album Una Mattina. The piece captures the softness of the fluffy clouds, with the sun penetrating through on occasions. A lovely piece.

 

It was inevitable that Christine would include 'Le Onde'- the piece that has meant so much to her. The repetitive nature of the waves lapping gently onto the shoreline is captured here, with Einaudi originally inspired by the words of novelist Virginia Woolf in her book entitled 'The Waves'.

 

'Dolce Droga' (Gentle Drug) is another selection from Una Mattina, and has soporific qualities from start to finish. 'Stella del Mattino' (Morning Star)- originally from I Giorni- is more up-beat, with a quicker tempo. It is light and full of hope. 'Rose' is a personal favourite, originally appearing on Divenire. As I listen, I can visualise this majestic flower slowly unfurling, with morning dew glistening on its delicate petals from the rising sun.

 

'In Un Altra Vita' (In Another Life) is the album's sixth track and is taken from the album 'I Giorni', as are the subsequent two tracks. I find it quite a reflective piece, perhaps contemplating what might have been had circumstances been different. Following on from this is 'La Nascita delle Cose Segrete' (The Birth of Secret Things) which is every bit as beautiful as the title would suggest.

 

'I Due Fiumi' (Two Rivers) to me conjures up images of tributaries and trickling streams converging into a gently flowing river as it starts it long, meandering route down the valley, sometimes separating between rocks to follow its own journey, just as we do in life. It features a lovely melody, irresistible in appeal.

 

'Come un Fiore' (Like a Flower) is from the Una Mattina album, and the piece is full of optimism- despite the elements, the flower remains strong and firm, now swaying gently from side to side in the soft summer's breeze. Whatever life may throw at oneself, it can be overcome. 'Reverie' means to be lost in one's own thoughts, and this is the likely outcome to listeners of the album's ninth track, this time from Nightbook. 'Resta con Me' (Stay with Me) takes us back to Una Mattina and, whilst more upbeat than the previous composition, still manages to relax and entertain in equal measure.

 

'I Giorni' (The Days) from the album of the same name, is one of Einaudi's most recognised and popular pieces, and it is not difficult to understand why with its melodic appeal. Indeed, quite recently this was number thirty-two in the UK singles tracks thanks to repeated air-time on national BBC radio. I particularly like the climax to this piece of music.

 

'Leo' is another selection from Una Mattina. The title is a diminutive of 'lion' in Italian, and the ensuing music is full of emotion.

 

This excellent album ends with 'Melodia Africana IV' (excerpt), bringing the listening experience to a perfect conclusion. Short, reflective, but delivering a message of hope.

 

Christine Rayner's take on the compositions of Ludovico Einaudi is exceptionally good. She allows the notes to breathe, the recording quality is top-notch, and she herself is clearly a talented pianist who perfectly captures Einaudi's minimalist style. It is of little wonder then that following her recitals, she was inundated with queries regarding the origins of the pieces being performed. Such was the level of interest that as well as directing them to the music of the great man himself, she investigated the possibility of recording her own interpretations of these classic pieces. In late November 2011, the vision became a reality with the release of 'The Calm of Einaudi', and the ensuing album is one I would recommend to all visitors to Piano-Heaven.   

 

For the listener, this is a win-win album. As well as over an hour's glorious piano playing (the piano used is a K.KAWAI RX-3), purchasing the album from HMV generates at least £1.00 for various cancer charities, and if purchasing from Christine's own website (www.braveamazons.com), £2.00 will be donated to one of four cancer charities from which the purchaser can select:

  • Cancer Research UK
  • Breakthrough Breast Cancer
  • Children with Cancer UK
  • Marie Curie Cancer Care

A beautiful album for an excellent cause. Pure piano-heaven.

 

S.C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Calm of Einaudi

 

Christine Rayner plays the

music of Ludovico Einaudi

 

 

 

 

Christine Rayner