Yann Tiersen’s (b.1970) music traverses genres from French folk music and chanson to minimal, avant-garde and post-rock. The French composer and multi-instrumentalist is primarily known for writing the music for the film Amélie. In 2016 he made the album EUSA, then in 2021, he ventured a step further towards electronic music with his new album Kerber (2021). The latter is a beautifully structured, immersive and thoughtfully constructed electronic world, composed on the island of Ushant where Tiersen now resides. The title of each track on these two albums refers to a specific place on Ushant. Kerber, for example, is named after a chapel in a small village on the island. Some offer the perfect soundtrack for contemplation on a long walk or staring out of a window on a train journey. Others seem predestined to be background music for study or relaxation. With each song, your imagination can easily conjure a scene from a movie: a breakup after a fight in a cosy café or a nature documentary showing two baby birds opening their eyes for the very first time.
After a frightening experience with a mountain lion in California, Tiersen came to a realisation. He needed to discover himself more intimately, and to do that, he needed to better know his home, Ushant. In order to understand his home and discover himself, he decided to draw a musical map of the island, of which EUSA is volume one; it contains ten piano works about ten places on Ushant.
‘I think there is a similarity between the infinite big and the infinite smallness of everything,’ explains Yann Tiersen. ‘It's the same experiment looking through a microscope as it is a telescope.’ This exploration of the micro and the macro has permeated much of Tiersen’s career, and Kerber once again shows the vast expansiveness and intricate detail of his work.
This isn’t a collection about isolation; it is more an expression of being conscious of your immediate environment, and your place within it. For Tiersen, this approach extracts the same degree of profundity as spending the evening studying the stars – which he himself does. ‘You can look at things that are thousands of light years away and relate your own existence to this really cosmic element,’ he says. ‘But you get that same feeling with the things all around you.’
‘A leading exponent of minimalism today’ (Fanfare). Pianist Jeroen van Veen has selected to perform the principle 17 works from these two of Tiersen’s albums for his own Island album. ‘The result here is a fresh and rather naked version of Eusa and Kerber that I will play in public quite a bit,’ Van Veen relates, ‘especially for my lie-down concerts, and the music makes a nice addition to my other existing programmes. In these works you can hear the emptiness of the island; although I’ve never been to Ushant, I can imagine the beauty of nature and the music ebbing and flowing like the ocean’s tide, low and high, day in, day out.’
French composer Yann Tiersen (born 1970) is one of the most popular and successful film music writers of today. His soulful and melancholic music finds its traces in folk music, French chansons, musette waltzes, street music, but also in the minimalism of Satie, Glass and Nyman.
His international breakthrough came with the music for the French blockbuster “Amélie”. Later followed “Goodbey, Lenin!” and others.
The composer’s two new albums, “Eusa” and “Kerber” are inspired by the small island of Ouessant, where he currently lives. Less than 16 square kilometers in size, it lies off the coast of Brittany in northwestern part of France boasting little apart from meadows and granite rocks. “Eusa” is the Breton name for Ouessant, “Kerber” is a little chapel on the island. Tiersen perfectly expresses the isolation of the island, its barren and wild landscape, but also its place in the vast universe when looking into space and its stars.
Dutch pianist, pioneer and champion of Minimalism Jeroen van Veen plays the piano in his inimitable way: focused, serene and hypnotizing. A worthy successor of Van Veen’s successful recordings for Brilliant Classics of piano music by Glass, Pärt, Yiruma and many others.
Recorded June 2022 in Stefflen, Germany
Booklet in English contains liner notes from, and profiles on, both Van Veen and Tiersen