Music review: Yann Tiersen

Yann Tiersen performing Picture: AFP
Yann Tiersen performing Picture: AFP
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Don’t call Yann Tiersen a French composer, as he is described in the EIF programme.

Star rating: ***

Venue: The Hub

He is, he told us firmly, from Brittany, which makes him “as French as you are English”. Ironically, the joke may have been wasted on this diverse, all-ages audience. Although classically trained, Tiersen’s music has great crossover appeal, much as the two composers with whom he is most often compared, Philip Glass and Michael Nyman.

Tiersen is not in their league but he does know how to set and maintain a scene, playing with sparing discipline under low amber lighting, the exposed filaments in the lamps looking like space age candelabra, while what sounded like exotic birdsong emanated from a reel-to-reel tape machine.

For almost an hour, the mood and the tempo barely changed, so the cumulative effect of his accessible, soothing, undulating piano playing was quite soporific, especially when teamed with recordings of waves lapping on a shore.

Eventually the pace picked up to a fluid canter, then Tiersen moved to violin for an equally insistent display, before breaking out into a soulful melody. From here, he switched to a couple of chiming toy pianos, building up intensity through repetition, and then another round of each, before ending on a lively klezmer fiddle tune.

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