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Avant-Dernieres Pensees: Selected Pianos Works, Vol. 1

Album Summary

>Satie, Erik : Gymnopedies (3) for Piano
>Satie, Erik : Gnossiennes (6), for piano
>Satie, Erik : Gnossienne for piano no 7
>Satie, Erik : Cafe-concert songs (3)
>Satie, Erik : Caresse, for piano
>Satie, Erik : Musiques intimes et secretes, for piano
>Satie, Erik : Embryons desseches
>Satie, Erik : Le Piege de Meduse, dances for piano
>Satie, Erik : Descriptions automatiques
>Satie, Erik : Sports et divertissements
>Satie, Erik : Avant-dernieres pensees (Next-to-last thoughts), pieces (3) for piano
Performers Composer

Notes & Reviews:

LTM is proud to present a new CD in our series by visionary French composer Erik Satie (1866-1925), following the success of previous releases including Vexations, Socrate and Dada Works, which present selected Satie recordings with explicit links to the unconventional, the mystic and the avant-garde. Avant-Dernières Pensées: Selected Piano Works features several of Satie's best known compositions, including the famously poised Trois Gymnopédies, all six haunting Gnossiennes and Je te veux, as well as more experimental pieces such as Descriptions automatiques, Avant-dernières pensées and Sports et divertissements, an extraordinary collection of 21 miniatures from 1914 with illustrations by Charles Martin. Also included is Satie's single-act, neo-Dada lyric comedy Le Piège de Médusa, comprising `seven tiny dances for Jonah the Monkey' and illustrated by the Cubist painter Georges Braque. The 46 pieces on this 72 minute CD are performed by pianist Bojan Gorisek. The booklet includes archive images and detailed liner notes by James Hayward.

Notes & Reviews:

Slovenian pianist Bojan Gorisek is internationally recognized for having recorded all of Erik Satie's compositions for piano. He has also interpreted work by Charles Ives, George Crumb, and fellow Slovenians Marij Kogoj, Aldo Kumar, and Milko Lazar, with whom he has performed concert duets. Released in 2007, Avant-Dernieres Pensees ("Next-to-Last Thoughts") is an excellent introduction to both the pianist and the composer. In addition to the well known Gymnopedies and Gnossiennes, this sampling includes posthumously published and peripheral works culled from the elliptic mosaic of Satie's oeuvre. Inscribed with directions that they be played dolorously, sadly, and solemnly, the three Gymnopedies, composed during the spring of 1888, were named for dances performed by naked boys at ancient Greek festivals held in honor of fallen warriors. The Gnossiennes, composed between 1889 and 1897, may have been inspired by the Minoan palace of Knossos in Crete and/or by Gnosticism in general. These marvelously ruminative pieces are garnished with performance instructions like "wonder about yourself" and "don't be proud." The first three date from 1890; number four is from 1991, number five was composed in 1889, and number six ("to be played with conviction and a sense of sadness") in 1897. Gnossiennes one and seven are the longest in the set, and act as ethereal bookends; the seventh was originally used in Act I of Le Fils des Etoiles (1891) and reappeared later as the first of the Three Pieces in the Form of a Pear (1903).

The waltz Je Te Veux [I Want You], a café-concert song from 1897, is a merry example of the sort of stuff Satie performed for the public ten years earlier at the Chat Noir in Montmartre. Discovered among preliminary drafts of his Cold Pieces (1897), Caresse is a little two-minute episode that feels a lot like one of Satie's tranced-out Rosicrucian meditations. Three pieces composed between 1906 and 1913 are grouped under the heading of "Intimate and Secret Musics" with the subtitles Nostalgia, Cold Musing, and Peevish Example. In addition to his compositional innovations, Satie exercised his poetic sensibilities and a deliciously weird sense of humor as he pioneered the art of affixing strange titles to musical works. Perhaps the most notorious examples are the Embryons Desseches (1913), a title that translates literally as "Desiccated Embryos." Intriguingly, these are presented as musical portraits of undersea animals with the scientific names Holothuria, Edriophthalma, and Podolphthalma. The lovely Edriophthalma is a wistful take-off on Chopin's famous funeral march. The Holothuria (which Satie disdainfully observes is called by the ignorant a Sea Cucumber) is said (by him) to purr like a cat while emitting a silky residue. The music accompanying this image is lively and playful, and ends (as does Podolphthalma) with a send-up of conventional repetitious 19th century symphonic finales. This humorous device was utilized during the '60s by the Bonzo Dog Band to close their wacky version of the pop tune Release Me.

Seven little dances from Satie's lyric comedy Le Piege de Meduse ("The Trap of Medusa") range from 15 to 43 seconds in duration, touching upon various popular forms including quadrille, valse, mazurka and polka. The Medusa in question is not the fearsome Gorgon of mythological antiquity but a cocky patriarch who forces his daughter's suitor to answer the question "Can you dance on one eye?" The twenty Sports and Diversions (1914) are prefaced with a "bitter preamble" bearing the title "Unappetizing Chorale." This deliberately stodgy minute's worth is dedicated to "The Shriveled Up" and "The Stupified," "To those who do not like me" -- in short, to narrow-minded members of the Academie des Beaux-Arts. The Sports and Diversions are among this composer's best-loved works. All but one range from 21 to 61 seconds in length; the Perpetual Tango runs nearly five minutes. In a postmodern technocratic environment where online musical selections are carefully assigned descriptive themes, Satie's titles seem ultra-useful as he invokes actions and entities as diverse as hunting, sleighing, fishing, flirting, fireworks, an octopus, marriage, tennis, swimming, golfing, racing, a carnival, a water chute and blind man's buff. The three Descriptions Automatiques (1913) presage this wild succession of images by focusing upon three objects: a ship, a streetlamp, and a helmet. Dedicated to Claude Debussy, Paul Dukas and Albert Roussel, Avant-Dernieres Pensees (1915) serve as the perfect epilogue for this well-executed tribute to the imaginative mind of Erik Satie. ~ arwulf arwulf



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Works Details

>Satie, Erik : Gymnopédies (3) for Piano
  • Performers: Bojan Gorisek (Piano); Erik Satie
  • Running Time: 9 min. 32 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1888

>Satie, Erik : Gnossiennes (6), for piano
  • Performers: Bojan Gorisek (Piano); Erik Satie
  • Running Time: 14 min. sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1889-1897

>Satie, Erik : Gnossienne for piano no 7
  • Performers: Bojan Gorisek (Piano); Erik Satie
  • Running Time: 3 min. 25 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic

>Satie, Erik : Café-concert songs (3)
  • Performers: Bojan Gorisek (Piano); Erik Satie
  • Running Time: 5 min. 18 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1897

>Satie, Erik : Caresse, for piano
  • Performers: Bojan Gorisek (Piano); Erik Satie
  • Running Time: 2 min. 16 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: circa 1897

>Satie, Erik : Musiques intimes et secrètes, for piano
  • Performers: Bojan Gorisek (Piano); Erik Satie
  • Running Time: 3 min. 8 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1906-1913

>Satie, Erik : Embryons desséchés
  • Performers: Bojan Gorisek (Piano); Erik Satie
  • Running Time: 5 min. 19 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1913

>Satie, Erik : Le Piège de Méduse, dances for piano
  • Performers: Bojan Gorisek (Piano); Erik Satie
  • Running Time: 2 min. 8 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1913

>Satie, Erik : Descriptions automatiques
  • Performers: Bojan Gorisek (Piano); Erik Satie
  • Running Time: 3 min. 21 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1913

>Satie, Erik : Sports et divertissements
  • Performers: Bojan Gorisek (Piano); Erik Satie
  • Running Time: 13 min. 19 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1914

>Satie, Erik : Avant-dernières pensées (Next-to-last thoughts), pieces (3) for piano
  • Performers: Bojan Gorisek (Piano); Erik Satie
  • Running Time: 2 min. 54 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1915