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  • Writer's pictureHinton Magazine

Thierry Eliez Presents: Emerson Enigma

After forty years of improvised explorations, world-renowned French pianist, organist and composer Thierry Eliez has once again shattered boundaries with his new album Emerson Enigma: a reimagining of the works of Keith Emerson. Founder of ‘Emerson Lake & Palmer’, one of the most celebrated progressive rock groups of the 1970’s, Keith Emerson became known for combining original compositions with classical or traditional pieces adapted to a rock format, as well as becoming a key proponent of the Hammond organ and Moog synthesisers, selling over 49 million albums worldwide.

Thierry Eliez

On Emerson Enigma, Thierry Eliez captures the essence of the original works, while stripping them of the electric textures typical of the seventies and subtly introducing strings, voices and extracts of other classical pieces, in order to create a beautiful recording that is as skillful as it is captivating. A chance meeting in Los Angeles between Emerson and Eliez ignited a friendship, which led Eliez to carry out this particularly intimate tribute. "We had to preserve the surreal and grandiose dimension of the works, without forgetting that most of them are also pop songs." says Thierry.

Helping him to achieve this are the Manticore Quartet: cello virtuoso Guillaume Latil (Cuareim Quartet, Youn Sun Nah, Daniel Yvinec, Anthony Jambon), violins from Johan Renard (Richard Bona, Archie Shepp, Steve Coleman, Didier Lockwood) and Khoa Nam Nguyen (Quatuor Elmire, François Salque, Samuel Strouck, Anne Gastinel) with Vladimir Percevic on viola (Renaud Capuçon, Mélody Gardot, Nabuko Imai). Completing the group is metamorphic vocalist and regular collaborator Ceilin Poggi, who (along with Eliez), navigates the surreal dimensions of Greg Lake texts and Keith Emerson’s music with a dose of crazy, offbeat and even theatrical humour.

Emerson Enigma

Thierry Eliez recounts and sublimates Emerson's work by merging pieces from various Emerson Lake & Palmer, as well as his work with band The Nice. Eliez freely conceives (according to the principle of association dear to Emerson) montages in a combined suite of original pieces, classical works and improvisations. From Knife Edge, Tarkus, The Endless Enigma to Pictures Of An Exhibition, we enjoy Janácek's Sinfonietta, further on Bach's Suite Française in D Minor, then excerpts of Mussorgsky intermingle with the ELP's works – Eliez remarks: "You just have to look for an exciting junction to bring coherence to the whole.”

Far from a simple rereading of Keith Emerson's work, the new album Emerson Enigma offers the keys to the enigmatic, lush, avant-garde world of Emerson as composer combined with Thierry Eliez’s unique brand of virtuosity, resulting in a singular and prominent recording with the potential to become a seminal work of epic proportions.


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