As he releases a collection of rarities and unreleased tracks, Ludovico Einaudi talks nature, inspiration and Bruce Springsteen.

Ludovico Einaudi appears over video call framed by a vision of the French Alps, partially obscured by a fog which sits gently over his native Italy's lush wine-producing region.

The classical pianist and composer has spent much of lockdown in splendid isolation at his recording studio in the north of the country.

He is keeping a musical diary and each day writes a piece of music - sometimes just a sketch - which he enters in a weighty red notepad.

We speak on day 191 of his song diary.

"Before everything changed I felt the need to connect more deeply with nature," he explains.

"The world was a bit too crazy for me.

"Everything has been so fast in the last years that rethinking the beautiful possibilities we have and finding a slower path in our lives can only be a good thing.

"We have a good moment to decide to change things now."

Born in northern Italy's cultural and financial hub of Turin, Einaudi's father was the respected publisher Giulio Einaudi, his grandfather the former president of Italy Luigi Einaudi.

His mother, Renata Aldrovandi, played him the piano as a child, and her father Waldo was a pianist, opera conductor and composer who migrated to Australia after the Second World War.

Since Einaudi, 64, began releasing music in the late 80s his success has followed the playbook of the pop, rather than the classical, artist.

He has found unparalleled success among a young generation of streaming listeners, earning on average one million streams daily and a total of two billion streams.

And his atmospheric, cinematic music repeatedly tops the classical charts globally.

"I grew up listening to lots of popular music because I always liked the fact it is more direct.

"There is a sort of immediate connection with someone who is playing an instrument and is writing a song and is singing.

"Sometimes when you play music that was written 100 years ago it can be a masterpiece...but sometimes it is difficult to read a message from over 100 years ago and take all the dust out of it and look at it with a new eye - a new vision."

Einaudi is among the most successful and popular musicians of all time, yet he has never been fully accepted by the classical community - perhaps because of his crossover appeal.

He admits he was aware of early critics who asked, "Are you sure you want to do this?" when he started out as a young man.

"I was listening to the voices but I have never been pushed to do something I didn't want to do," he recalls.

"I have never done something for commercial purposes and probably now it is even better because I am not dealing with anyone so I don't have the voices around me," he smiles impishly.

"It is a beautiful experience I am living. Just feeling the flows of how my life is changing every day and how I react to it with what I do with my music."

Asked about his influences, Einaudi has previously offered up some unlikely choices, Radiohead and Eminem among them.

Today he is excited to discuss modern classical greats, world music and Bruce Springsteen, who has been soundtracking his car journeys.

"I have been listening to classical contemporary music from Arvo Part to Philip Glass," he offers.

"At the same time I love to listen to folk music from different parts of the world, African music, especially from Mali.

"I have also been playing with great Malian musicians.

"And two days ago I was driving in the countryside and listening to Nebraska by Bruce Springsteen so it really depends.

"I don't have a plan and there is nothing predicable in what I listen to."

He was drawn to the American singer-songwriter's 1982 album after reading a review which compared its songs with the story of Nomadland, the 2020 film he soundtracked and which won the revered Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival.

"I enjoyed it very much," he says.

"It's been many years since I listened to this album.

"You're looking for something and you are finding something else.

"You are searching and you discover something that wasn't in your mind."

Einaudi recently completed Seven Days Walking - seven albums recorded in seven months, each inspired by a series of winter walks he took in the Alps.

On top of that he has collated Einaudi Undiscovered, a collection of rarities and unreleased tracks.

Both projects take inspiration from nature.

Undiscovered features Elegy For The Arctic, a collaboration with Greenpeace to publicise their conservation efforts in the region.

In a suitably dramatic music video, Einaudi plays piano on a specially built "iceberg"' within 100 metres of a crumbling glacier.

But his focus on the environment has not always been so popular.

"My music has always been in a different place," he asserts.

"I remember the place where my music was 15 years or 20 years ago or 30 years ago.

"My music has always been considered niche, then the vision of the world changed.

"Probably the emotions I put in my art are more popular because more people see the world in a different way now.

"I didn't care about what was in fashion at the time.

"I always wanted to be somewhere that was special for me.

"And this was where you are connected with nature and you have respect for nature and for the environment that you are living in.

"You are in a peaceful relation with what is surrounding you.

"This is my point of view. In a way, every piece of music I have written there is something about that."

Einaudi Undiscovered is out now on Decca Records.