SATIE: “Satie Slowly” [TrackList follows] = Philip Corner, piano – Unseen Worlds
SATIE Orchestrated by Michel Decoust [TrackList follows] – Orchestre Régional de Basse-Normandie/ Jean-Pierre Wallez – Skarbo

ERIK SATIE: “Satie Slowly” [TrackList follows] = Philip Corner, piano – Unseen Worlds UW12 (2 CDs) [9/30/14] ****:

SATIE Orchestrated by Michel Decoust [TrackList follows] – Orchestre Régional de Basse-Normandie/ Jean-Pierre Wallez – Skarbo DSK3135, 66:38 [Distr. by Naxos] (9/9/14) ****:

Satie was undoubtedly a very strange duck. He worked hard at being totally eccentric, under a cloak of humility and conformity, but his entire musical world was a deep critique of what was wrong with so-called high culture of the time. Philip Corner is not the first pianist to feel that Satie’s piano music is being played at too fast a tempo. This was done before, in some detail, by the skilled Dutch pianist Reinbert de Leeuw, on three Philips CDs: Vols. 1 & 2 of early piano works (around 1977) and a third of the Danses gothiques, Quatre préludes and some other works that didn’t fit on the first two volumes (1995). He gained an international reputation for his very slow Satie recordings.

However, Philip Corner sees fit to play Satie’s early piano music even slower – v e r y  s l o w – in other words. As an example, the first Ogives (the composer’s earliest of his series of piano works) runs 2:47 in de Leeuw’s Philips recording, while Corner runs 4:13 for the exact same piece. Although the photos of Corner show him at an upright piano, his recording is obviously made using a grand piano, and sounds about the same sonically as the de Leeuw although at a higher level. Corner’s thick note booklet (44 pages) is written in a sort of Erik Satie style, and discusses the musicological points in Satie’s music: how it seem so simple and in negation of all the rules about voice leading and counterpoint, yet is so deeply complex and innovative. In his scoffing at all the rules of composing, Corner feels that Satie was a forerunner of John Cage.

I find the notes with de Leeuw’s CDs to be much more readable and informative, with their information on Satie’s way of life, his behavior and his music. Satie was for a time the official composer for the Rosicrucians in Paris, and that explains the odd religious stuff in some of his piano pieces. He later founded a church of which he was the one and only devotee. I find de Leeuw’s recording just about right in stressing the meditational and mystical aspects of Satie’s music, with the Corner recordings simply far too slow.

TrackList:

1. Ogive I
 
2. Ogive II
 
3. Ogive III
 
4. Ogive IV
 
5. Gnossienne No.1
 
6. The Feast Given By The Norman Knights To Honor A Young Girl
 
7. First Prelude of the Nazarene
 
8. Second Prelude of the Nazarene
 
9. The Gothic Dances
 
10. First Gymnopédie 
 
11. Second Gymnopédie
 
12. Third Gymnopédie
 
13. First Fanfare of the Rose+Cross – Air Of The Order 
 
14. Second Fanfare of the Rose+Cross – Air Of The Grand Master
 
15. Third Fanfare of the Rose+Cross – Air Of The Head Prior
 
16. Chorales
 
17. Empire’s Diva 

[audaud-hr]

There have also been other orchestrations of Satie’s music. One of these is Charles Duoit’s album on Decca Satie’s Greatest Hits. Michel Decuost has transcribed mostly works from the latter of the two Satie periods established by critics: the Mystical Period and the Humoristic Period. These are humoristic scores composed between 1912 and -15, and Satie’s writings on the scores may be compared to intertitles in silent films. Some of the pianists performing these later works have a narrator recite the texts over the music, but the Orch. Régional de Basse-Normandie projects the texts on a screen to better demonstrate their presence on Satie’s scores is not reducible to their content.

There is little in the note booklet about the transcription of these Satie works for symphony orchestra, though it is a 28-page booklet. Michel Decoust is both a composer and conductor, altho he hasn’t done much conducting since 1980. He defines himself as an entrepreneur and builder, and recently composed his first opera. The chamber orchestra was founded in 1982 and is a permanent ensemble of 18 processional musicians. It delivers some hundred concerts annually thruout France.

The movements of the various Satie suites are often extremely short, some as little as 18 or 26 seconds. Sports et Divertissements is the longest, with 20 movements. The recording was made last year in Ardenne, France.

TrackList:

3 Nouvelles enfantines (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): I. Le Vilain petit Vaurien

3 Nouvelles enfantines (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): II. Berceuse

3 Nouvelles enfantines (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): III. La gentille toute petite Fille

Embryons desseches (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): I. d’holothurie

Embryons desseches (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): II. d’edriophthalma

Embryons desseches (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): III. de podophthalma

Heures seculaires et instantanees (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): I. Obstacles venimeux

Heures seculaires et instantanees (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): II. Crepuscule matinal (de midi)

Heures seculaires et instantanees (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): III. Affolements granitiques

Chapitres tournes en tous sens (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): I. Celle qui parle trop

Chapitres tournes en tous sens (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): II. Le Porteur de grosses Pierres

Chapitres tournes en tous sens (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): III. Regrets des Enfermes (Jonas et Latude)

Vieux sequins et vieilles cuirasses (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): I. Chez le Marchand d’or (Venise, XIIIe siecle)

Vieux sequins et vieilles cuirasses (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): II. Danse cuirassee (Periode greque)

Vieux sequins et vieilles cuirasses (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): III. La Defaite des cimbres (Cauchemar)

Les 3 valses distinguees du precieux degoute (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): No. 1. Sa taille

Les 3 valses distinguees du precieux degoute (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): No. 2. Son binocle

Les 3 valses distinguees du precieux degoute (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): No. 3. Ses jambes

L’enfance de Ko-Quo (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): No. 1. Ne bois pas ton chocolat avec tes doigts

L’enfance de Ko-Quo (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): No. 2. Ne souffle pas dans tes oreilles

L’enfance de Ko-Quo (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): No. 3. Ne mets pas ta tete sous ton bras

Veritables preludes flasques (pour un chien) (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): I. Severe reprimande

Veritables preludes flasques (pour un chien) (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): II. Seul a la maison

Veritables preludes flasques (pour un chien) (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): III. On joue

Les pantins dansent (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra)

Descriptions automatiques (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): I. Sur un Vaisseau

Descriptions automatiques (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): II. Sur une Lanterne

Descriptions automatiques (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): III. Sur un Casque

Sports et divertissements (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): I. Choral inappestissant (Unappetizing chorale)

Sports et divertissements (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): II. La Balancoire (The swing)

Sports et divertissements (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): III. La Chasse (Hunting)

Sports et divertissements (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): IV. La Comedie italienne (The Italian comedy)

Sports et divertissements (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): V. Le reveil de la mariee (The awakening of the bride)

Sports et divertissements (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): VI. Colin-maillard (Blindman’s-buff)

Sports et divertissements (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): VII. La Peche (Fishing)

Sports et divertissements (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): VIII. Le Yatching

Sports et divertissements (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): IX. Le Bain de mer (Ocean bathing)

Sports et divertissements (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): X. Le Carnaval

Sports et divertissements (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): XI. Le Golf

Sports et divertissements (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): XII. La pieuvre (The octopus)

Sports et divertissements (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): XIII. Les Courses (Racing)

Sports et divertissements (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): XIV. Les Quatre-coins (Puss-in-the-corner)

Sports et divertissements (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): XV. Le pique-nique (The picnic)

Sports et divertissements (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): XVI. Le Water-chute (Shoot-the-chutes)

Sports et divertissements (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): XVII. Le Tango perpetual (The Perpetual tango)

Sports et divertissements (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): XVIII. Le Traineau (The sled)

Sports et divertissements (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): XIX. Le Flirt (Flirting)

Sports et divertissements (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): XX. Le feu d’artifice (Fireworks)

Sports et divertissements (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): XXI. Le Tennis

Avant-dernieres pensees (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): No. 1. Idylle

Avant-dernieres pensees (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): No. 2. Aubade

Avant-dernieres pensees (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): No. 3. Meditation

Croquis et agaceries d’un gros bonhomme en bois (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): I. Tyrolienne Turque

Croquis et agaceries d’un gros bonhomme en bois (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): II. Danse maigre (a la maniere de ces Messieurs)

Croquis et agaceries d’un gros bonhomme en bois (arr. M. Decoust for orchestra): III. Expanana

—John Sunier

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