Yann Tiersen at the Royal Albert Hall
Yann Tiersen is a multi-instrumentalist who rose to fame when songs from three of his albums were used to score Amelie, and most of his music seems as though it was written with films in mind. His latest release, EUSA, moves away from the busy, dense sounds that characterised his earlier work and focuses instead on solo piano music. This concert sees Tiersen play numbers mainly from the new record, and over the course of the evening he performs on the grand piano, the violin and the glockenspiel, almost entirely alone on stage.
The show is a love letter to the composer’s home island, Ushant. The pieces are accompanied by a backing track of recordings from fields, rivers and beaches around Brittany and he plays delicately alongside birdsong and aggressively against the backdrop of waves. Tiersen can get so much depth from the piano: the room is filled with rich, wordless sounds as he paints a swirling picture of home. It’s powerful and atmospheric, and his passion for his homeland is overwhelming.
For the first 40 minutes Tiersen seems to be an artist in total control of his audience. Standout moments include his enchanting performances of Pern and Porz Goret. Lok Gweltaz is so rich and hypnotic that it almost sends the Royal Albert Hall to sleep – in a good way.
Unfortunately, this is very much a show of two acts, without a break in the middle. The second act begins when the musician takes to his glockenspiel. He plays an intricate piece that fills the hall with strange and complex sounds; those who couldn’t see the one man on stage would believe there were two or three instrumentalists playing, which is true of a lot of the evening.
As Tiersen darts from one instrument to another, the depth and melody of the music is gradually lost to a showcase of his technical ability (which, to be fair, is stunning). As things fall apart the trance is broken: the set begins to feel disconnected. The final few songs feature guest singers, and people begin to leave. This isn’t quite Dylan goes electric, but it’s not what the crowd came to see.
Photos: Nick Bennett
For further information and future events visit the Yann Tiersen website here.
Watch the video for Porz Goret here: