The 67-year-old piano maestro played two nights in Porto as part of a European tour supporting his 2022 record-breaking album
Porto’s Jardins do Palácio de Cristal sit at the southern edge of the city, a green and elegant space where the light trickles gently through the trees, peacocks roam freely and groups of friends gather with picnic blankets and guitars to catch the sunset giving the Douro river a pink hue. Once there was a palace built in the image of London’s own, but now in its place is the domed Rosa Mota pavilion (also known less romantically as the Super Bock Arena), providing one of the city’s best concert spots.
There aren’t many settings more fitting for an evening with Ludovico Einaudi, the highest streaming classical musician of all time. Last year his first solo album in 20 years, Underwater, topped the UK Classical Chart in record time, making it the fastest streamed classical album ever. But behind the classical form, the Italian composer and pianist has always had something of a pop sensibility at heart that has made his work instantly engaging and today can songs such as ‘Experience’ have even had a viral impact. This is classical music for everyone, so it feels right that both nights of his Underwater tour in Porto should be in one of the city’s proudest public spaces.
Aquarium-like water droplet sounds can be heard as people find their seats, but a singular, soft-edged beam leads the 67-year-old to his. Opener ‘Atoms’ introduces the felted style of Underwater delicately, as dust particles floating above him give the song a visual element. Blending seamlessly into ‘Wind Song’, it feels like both of his feet are kept on soft and sustain, but it’s likely all in the masterful control of his hands.
Later on, a trio of percussionist, violinist and cellist join the stage to help build the atmospheric swells of ‘L’origine nascosta’ and of course ‘Experience’. But the evening’s most profound moments are provided by Einaudi alone, such as the feeling of hope in ‘Rolling Like A Ball’ or the sad smile of ‘Berlin Song.’ Whether they’re from the album or not, these instants reflect the closeness of Underwater that makes it so devastatingly imaginative to the minds of its listeners.