If there’s a composer who has dominated the contemporary classical landscape, it has to be Ludovico Einaudi. The Italian composer and pianist’s familiar sound has been a regular fixture on commercial classical radio stations, TV advertising and even on film.
Since emerging onto the global scene in the early noughties – following years of stardom in Italy – Einaudi has cornered the market with his chilled-out, transportive music.
Pretty much all of his recordings, not to mention the ‘best of’ collections, have risen to the top of the classical chart over the years – indeed, some have never left the top 20.
Here are our top five Ludovico Einaudi albums
5. Diario Mali
Ludovico Einaudi (piano), Ballake Sissoko (kora)
Ponderosa Music and Art pdcd018 (2003)
This innovative collaboration album saw Einaudi team up with Malian musician Ballaké Sissoko. Having met and jammed together in Mali, the composer invited the master kora player to join him for recording sessions in Italy. The result is an entrancing semi-improvised performance, a conversation between piano and kora that bridges musical ideas and different continents.
4. Doctor Zhivago – Music from the TV Series
Czech National Symphony Orchestra/Ludovico Einaudi, et al
UCJ 472 802-2 (2002)
Einaudi’s original score for this ITV mini-series surely contributed to the composer’s profile being raised in the UK. It’s a beautifully nuanced work featuring piano (of course), the strings of the Czech National Symphony and occasional vocals by Natalya Milyaeva. The emotional hues are subtle, the pace gently racing at times – it’s very much a product of this period in the composer’s output.
3. I Giorni
Ludovico Einaudi (piano)
Ricordi/BMG 74321 97462 2 (2001)
By this fourth album, Einaudi had established his identity and like his second album, Le Onde, he opted for solo piano. Inspired by trip to Mali, it features some of the most familiar pieces fans would come to know and love, such as Melodia Africana I-III and the title track, I Giorni (The Days).
Ludovico Einaudi (piano, etc); RLPO/Robert Ziegler, et al
Decca 475 8102 (2006)
There’s a confident sheen to this album, Einaudi’s second for Decca. The solo piano works were oh-so familiar by this point, so it was something of a surprise and breath of air to hear the composer move beyond the keyboard. Joining the piano are subtle electronics, cello and – on three tracks – members of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. The title track, featuring cascading strings, has become one of Einaudi’s most popular and has been covered numerous times by other artists over the years.
1. In a Time Lapse
Ludovico Einaudi (piano, etc); Daniel Hope (violin)
Decca 481 0173 (2013)
Einaudi has always been a keen collaborator and this album is really the pinnacle of the composer and musician’s prowess. In what is a super slick production, Einaudi and friends create an engrossing soundworld built of everything from solo strings – headed by violinist Daniel Hope –, guitars, electronics, kalimba, double bass, harp and, of course, piano. This is music to lose yourself in.
The best Ludovico Einaudi collection…
Decca 476 4490 (2011)
This ‘best of’ album has remained in the upper reaches of the classical album chart for years – in fact, at the time of writing, it has climbed again to No. 3 having been in the chart for 499 weeks. It brings together top tracks from Einaudi’s bestselling catalogue up to that point, including pieces from I Giorni, Doctor Zhivago and Divenire. Einaudi re-recorded some of his most popular solo piano pieces especially for the album; the sessions took place at St George’s Bristol.
Michael is the Reviews Editor of BBC Music Magazine. He was previously a freelance film music journalist and spent 15 years at St George's Bristol. Michael specialises in film and television music and was the Editor of MusicfromtheMovies.com. He has written for the BBC Proms, BBC Concert Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Albert Hall, Hollywood in Vienna and Silva Screen Records.