Quentin Sirjacq: Le Chambre Claire

Schole Records further cements its reputation as a piano-centered label with Quentin Sirjacq's lovely addition to the label's discography. La Chambre Claire (A Bright Room) is an unashamedly romantic, hour-long collection of (essentially) solo piano settings by the Paris native, who's otherwise known for his collaborative work with Joëlle Léandre. While much of the album presents Sirjacq's exquisite playing alone, some of its twelve pieces (two of them bonus tracks) include contributions from Steve Argüelles (electronics), Serge Rogalski (guitar), Alexis Anérilles (vibraphone), Silvia Tarozzi (violin), and Deborah Walker (viola).

Sirjacq's album sets sail with the Debussy-esque reverie “Car je cherche le vide,” its wistful impressionistic flow subtly augmented by subliminal electronic touches by Argüelles. What follows varies in mood and style, though the pianist's refined playing is evident throughout and brings a reassuring cohesiveness to the recording. Some pieces resemble 19th-century parlour pieces of the kind one might hear at a Paris soirée whereas others suggest the influence of Michael Nyman, Philip Glass, and Steve Reich. While the rolling clusters in “Et le nu,” for example, suggest French Impressionism, the ten-minute setting's full arrangement of strings, piano, and vibraphone calls to mind the kind of arrangement Nyman might bring to his own ensemble. Explicit echoes of Glass's The Thin Blue Line soundtrack emerge in “Jaillissant de mon oeil” and, of course, Satie surfaces during the album as well. Both “Par milliers” and “Mais les ténèbres sont elles-mêmes,” for example, exude a melancholy melodic style and languor characteristic of Satie. That other composers and styles emerge in the recordings' settings doesn't, however, dampen the listener's overall impression of this fine album or its gifted composer-pianist.

January 2012