New album points to a rising talent

The dreamy, romantic music that accompanied the adventures of Amelie Poulain, in the French box-office hit of the same title, prompted many of the film’s audience to go out and buy the soundtrack. The composer was at the time unknown to the wider public, although his career had started much earlier. These days, French composer Yann Tiersen needs no introduction. He has earned a spot among the most interesting composers of his generation in Europe and has proved, with each of his works, that he has much to say. «Les Retrouvailles,» his latest album and his most mature work so far, includes important collaborations with acclaimed vocalists such as Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins, and Jane Birkin and Stuart Staples of Tindersticks. While in Paris, Tiersen spoke to Kathimerini about his latest work. How did you manage the collaboration of Elizabeth Fraser? Let me tell you what I think about Elizabeth: I believe she has the most beautiful voice in the world; she is a unique singer with depth, sensitivity and feeling. We ended up working together because she really liked these two songs – «Kala» and «Mary» – and decided to sing them. On this album, you combined even more kinds of music. How difficult was it to blend them all together? When you look at music without any restrictions and you allow it to overtake you, you discover how to create a unified atmosphere with different kinds of music. «Les Retrouvailles» may contain elements that range from French chansons to traditional music, from street music to classical, but I think the result is pretty solid. Do you still have an aversion to technology, as you have stated in the past? I don’t like technology having priority in my music. I prefer to use the instruments myself, and I think that even small glitches, if I can call them that, have their charm. After the success of «Amelie,» you must be much sought-after as a composer for soundtracks. I don’t write soundtracks on commission, because I can’t work with that kind of time restriction. I may need up to three years to complete an album. I want every work I do to come about naturally and spontaneously. You have been likened to Erik Satie and Michael Nyman. Is that a fair comparison? I admire their work but I can’t answer that. I also admire many other composers, including a Greek one, Eleni Karaindrou, whose music for Theo Angelopoulos’s films is ideal. That is how I judge a good soundtrack: when it fits perfectly with a director’s images.

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