Music. The symphonic poem of Didier Squiban

“This symphony is my favorite, con Brittany And Iroise. » Teasing and playful on the phone, Didier Squiban talks about his latest album, released in September. Radiant compositions, built over time, where the Breton pianist offers a musical, pictorial and symbolic mix of what animates him deep down.

Written in 2013, this “concert symphonic suite” – let’s clarify the terms – is the result of a commission from the Orchester national de Bretagne.

Didier Squiban, arm in arm, with Geoffroy Tamisier, who orchestrated Ponant’s symphonic suite. | PIERRE-HENRI BERTHEZENE

The author of the memorable album mullein (1997) is defined more as “pianist” as orchestrator. For this he relies on the know-how and ear of trumpeter Geoffroy Tamisier: “I would have made mistakes, the orchestration would have taken me longer. I know the oboes, the clarinet, the bassoon less well. You need to know. »

“Merge My Influences”

The director Ariane Matiakh brings her sensitivity and gives the the. “She’s Morlaisian! And she knows the gavotte by heart, laughs Didier Squiban, who has great admiration for him.

In 2015 the Ponant Symphony it was performed at the Cornouaille Festival in Quimper. It took six years to record and bring together a dream cast: pianist Baptiste Trotignon, multi-instrumentalist Sylvain Barou, trumpeter Airelle Besson, percussionist Jérôme Kerihuel…

Didier Squiban with Ariane Matiakh, the conductor who conducts Ponant’s symphonic suite. | PIERRE-HENRI BERTHEZENE

“I wanted to combine my influences, create a sweater (a mixture, in Breton), like in a cauldron where we find poetry, jazz and traditional music. » It is already an ode to poets where, through music, Didier Squiban reconciles the authors of pride horse And horse lying downHelias and Grall.

“I have read and re-read the poems of Per-Jakez Helias. Beyond the meaning, it is the language that inspires me harmony. » The ending is a salute to the bard Glenmor. Tutelary figures for Squiban who, with a pirouette, admits what he is least proud of: “I can’t speak Breton or English, a bit out of laziness. And I’ve never played sports, I’m sedentary in front of the piano and the sea.

Didier Squiban loves meetings. Those who have marked his career, especially with Yann-Fañch Kemener, with whom he recorded the album Enez Eusa, inscribed in the firmament of Breton music. Those found on the symphony, between the Basque Didier Ithursarry (accordion) and the Breton Bernard Le Dréau (saxophone).

Didier Squiban, taken away from the piano by illness, produces artists in his studio, in Plougastel-Daoulas. | PIERRE-HENRI BERTHEZENE

It is once again his beloved islands in the land of the setting sun that inspire him. Fifteen Ponant islands, as many themes, seven Costa Rican islands, as many movements.

Away from his piano due to illness (“I don’t practice anymore”), Didier Squiban listens to a lot of music, from rapper Eminem to opera, which he “rediscover”. And it produces. Recordings prepared at his home, in his studios at the Hôtel de la Grève, in Plougastel-Daoulas (Finistère): chamber music, jazz …

Share, transmit. It’s in its element: “I discovered a fabulous pianist, Gaëtan Nicot from Nantes. He understood everything. »

Ponant’s Symphony Coop Breizh, 16 tracks, 64 mins. On 24 and 25 November 2022, at the Rennes Opera.

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