This is a re-release of Ludovico Einaudi’s 1992 album Stanze, which he composed for the harp. Unusually, he isn’t playing his own compositions (generally for piano), but they are interpreted on this album by the talented harpist Cecilia Chailly.
Einaudi is one of the most popular and prolific contemporary classical composers and with his extraordinary body of work, it’s easy to see why. He has written pieces of astonishing beauty and complexity and enchanted millions with his skills as a pianist.
We feel that Stanze is not unproblematic as an album. Einaudi seems to think in the notes, octaves and distinctive sound of the piano. Even when he is joined by a full orchestra, it is as an accompaniment to the piano. Stanze contains some beautifully written pieces, and brings the best out of the harp: but unlike the piano, the harp is at its most effective accompanying other instruments.
The problem here is that the delicate, tender sound of the solo harp doesn’t easily sustain over the length of an album. The arrangements quickly become repetitive, and ennui can set in. Stanze is undeniably beautiful music, and is ideal for putting on to unwind to along with a glass of red wine after a long day at work. However, it conjures more of a sense of mood than registers with any lasting impact for the strength of the melodies and compositions. Einaudi is far too good a composer for his music to be considered background noise, but that is what Stanze frequently skirts with. All of the compositions are of a similar pace and mood, and there’s very little on the album that is truly distinctive.
If you want a chillout album with pleasant harp harmonies that demands little of you, Stanze is perfect. If you’re used to the rich and intricate piano compositions of Einaudi and prefer to fall in love with an album slowly, then Stanze may leave you underwhelmed and may not be the right album for you. If you fall into the latter category, look for Einaudi’s piano work instead.