Christian Brenner: Le Son De L’Absence

The title refers to the death of a loved one but the Parisian pianist's response in this 2009 album accentuates the positive


JJ readers may be aware of the admiration I have for the work of French pianist Christian Brenner: see my JJ profile of him in spring 2016 or my April 2023 review of Avant L’Été – a splendid album of original compositions which got excellent reviews in Europe.

Le Son De L’Absence is an earlier album, from 2009, and the second release on Brenner’s own Amalgammes label. As revealed in Brenner’s French-language sleeve-note, its appearance and title came in response to the tragic early death of his wife Anne. But while such an event inevitably must have left its sorrowing mark on this music, even the title track here – “the sound of absence” and the most immediately apparent meditation by Brenner on life after Anne – eschews any feeling of overwhelming grief, sadness or even bitterness, to sing in far more rounded and resonant terms of the life that he and his wife had had together. Hear also the poised range of emotion evident in the often uptempo Happy Hours.

Accompanied by the excellent guitarist Olivier Cahours and bassist Francois Fuchs, Brenner offers a lucid and most special recital which both meditates on and flows with life, sings beyond sorrow and swings with what one can only presume must have been the most bittersweet joy: hear, especially, the deeply moving Cadences. In the coda that is Little Girl Blue, Brenner is accompanied by Jean Pierre Rebillard (bass) and Pier Paolo Pozzi, one of my favourite drummers. His work on brushes shines here, as does the fine pizzicato solo from Rebillard.

An album of characterful compositions and excellent musicianship, Le Son De L’Absence offers a remarkable testament to the power of the human spirit.

(1) Cadences; Arborer Sens; Le Doode; La Chambre Rouge; Hypno-tic; Le Son De L’Absence; Beslan; Happy Hours;(2) Little Girl Blue (44.09)
(1) Brenner (p); Olivier Cahours (g); Francois Fuchs (b). Paris, March & November 2009.
(2) Brenner (p); Jean Pierre Rebillard (b); Pier Paolo Pozzi (d). Rome, April 2009.
Amalgammes AMAL 0002