AMN Reviews: Quentin Sirjacq – La Chambre Claire (Schole Recordings)

Quentin Sirjacq, “La Chambre Claire” (Schole Recordings)

Japanese label Schole has a big old soft spot for European Romanticism, as a number of the solo piano outings by founder Akira Kosemura sweetly testify. In reissuing “La Chambre Claire” by Quentin Sirjacq, previously only available in France, it has re-opened a window on the fresh, head-clearing tones of a promising solo debutant. Born in 1978 and educated in France, the Netherlands and the United States, Sirjacq has played with Fred Frith and Joëlle Léander, performed works by Steve Reich, James Tenney and Frederic Rzewski and composed for film and dance.

This ostensibly one-man recital has been lifted skyward by exquisite production, like the tiny-bell echoes on just the right notes of “Car je cherche le vide,” and judiciously leavened with violin, guitar or vibraphone by a handful of guest musicians. In a few instances, electronics are used to just graze the edges of the piano a bit.

Sirjacq´s compositions are as deceptively complex as the short stories of Guy de Maupassant, afternoon strolls under parasols on the boulevards of Paris in the 1870s, quietly vivid narratives which, like “Mais les ténèbres sont elles-mêmes” – but they themselves are blackness – speak of and to the quaking heart and soul. Listing Philip Glass among his many sources of inspiration, “Jaillisant de mon Oeil” is a bald tribute to the former´s much-admired “Solo Piano” pieces. To mention Satie is almost embarrassingly obvious (but “Par Milliers”).

Two bonus tracks – one in which he also moves inside the piano, the other an ambient remix of the track “Obsession” – round off a wise reissue. The elegant, new cover graphics are far more suitable than the original, frankly ugly, French edition, calling to mind the logo of a Park Avenue jeweller, a worthy package for the string of gems within.

Stephen Fruitman