Home Hear Thierry Eliez Boldy Tackles The Emerson Enigma

Thierry Eliez Boldy Tackles The Emerson Enigma

The world-renowned French keyboardist reimagines the work of ELP's mad scientist.

Thierry Eliez puts his own spin on an ambitious slate of Keith Emerson‘s prog, classical and orchestral-rock works with his intrepid and inspired new album Emerson Enigma — showcasing today on Tinnitist.

After 40 years of improvised explorations, world-renowned French pianist, organist and composer Eliez has once again shattered boundaries with his latest album reimagining Emerson’s timeless compositions. The co-founder of Emerson Lake & Palmer 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 synthesizers, selling over 49 million albums.

On Emerson Enigma — now being released internationally — Eliez captures the essence of the original works, while stripping them of the electric textures typical of the ’70s 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.

Photo by Sylvain Gripoix.

Helping him to achieve this are the Manticore Quartet: Cello virtuoso Guillaume Latil, violins from Johan Renard and Khoa Nam Nguyen, with Vladimir Percevic on viola. Completing the group is metamorphic vocalist and regular collaborator Ceilin Poggi, who (along with Eliez), navigates the surreal dimensions of Greg Lake’s lyrics and Emerson’s music with a dose of crazy, offbeat and even theatrical humour.

Eliez recounts and sublimates Emerson’s work by merging pieces from ELP and 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, and 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 works. Eliez remarks: “You just have to look for an exciting junction to bring coherence to the whole.”

Far from a simple rereading of Emerson’s work, Emerson Enigma offers the keys to the enigmatic, lush, avant-garde world of Emerson as composer combined with Eliez’s unique brand of virtuosity, resulting in a singular and prominent recording with the potential to become a seminal work of epic proportions. “Exploring Keith Emerson’s music is a way of paying tribute to the curiosity and absolute freedom that have guided my career,” says Eliez.

Check out Emerson Enigma below and follow Thierry Eliez on his website, Instagram and Facebook.


Photo by Sylvain Gripoix.