You need to know my bias when you read this review: I think Ludovico Einaudi is the greatest living composer for piano today. I waited, not at all patiently, for the release of this album. (So impatiently, in fact, that I ordered an import for triple the cost to get it even earlier than amazon had available...). And I was not disappointed. This album is full of beautiful pieces in the trademark Einaudi style of melodic minimalism. Compared to his other solo piano works, I would say the pieces on this album are edgier, for want of a better word, than his past albums. Principio, for example, is one of the most ominous, darkly gorgeous piano solos I have ever heard. Eros starts with strings full of quiet tension and builds to an explosive climax. The first time I heard it I wasn't sure I liked it. Fifty or so listenings later, I think it is one of the strongest pieces, compositionally speaking, on the album. But I would not want to imply that all the pieces are dark and foreboding; the album has several soft and serene beautiful melodies, of which Indaco and Reverie are, in my opinion, the prettiest.
However, the best piece on the album isn't on it. That probably sounds cryptic, but I am referring to Berlin Song, a track that appears as a bonus on some of the import versions of the CD and is available through iTunes. Berlin Song is stunning: It begins with a legato blending of reverberating soft chords and ends with deep bass notes that echo in your heart. It is a piece that any Einaudi fan definitely should own, so after you buy this album, head over to iTunes to download Berlin Song as a separate track. Why not simply download the album from iTunes instead, you ask? Because the amazon version of Nightbook contains a different bonus track, Piste Sans Triste 13, that is not available on iTunes, an extra 8 minutes of Einaudi you don't want to miss out on.
Is this Einaudi's best album? That's hard to say, but if I were tempted to respond with a 'no,' it's only because so many of his other albums contain works of unbearable beauty. Would it be Divenire? Una Mattina? I Giorni? Or Le Onde? Nobody should ever be asked to make such a choice.