ERIK SATIE: Trois Gymopedies; Trois Morceaux en forme de poire; Trois Gnossiennes; Trio Petities Pieces Montees; Embryons Desseches; Avant-Dernieres Pensees; Sports et Divertissements; Veritables Preludes Flasques – Katia and Marielle Labeque – KML

by | Nov 7, 2009 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

ERIK SATIE: Trois Gymopedies; Trois Morceaux en forme de poire; Trois Gnossiennes; Trio Petities Pieces Montees; Embryons Desseches; Avant-Dernieres Pensees; Sports et Divertissements; Veritables Preludes Flasques (pour un chien) – Katia and Marielle Labeque, piano – KML 1120 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] *****:

The latest from the fabulous piano twins on their own label is a delightful collection of piano works for either two or four hands from the pen of that quirky little Parisien, Erik Satie. The sisters had long admired and enjoyed the witty little works of Satie, but hadn’t really gotten into them until preparing for this recording. They approached the music separately, and came together on some of the four-hand works. Satie worked totally alone for most of his life and didn’t get performances until very late in life. So he adopted the habit of noting down his moods and feelings right in his scores so he could recall them more easily. Thus, we find little instructions in the sheet music, such as “Open Your Head,” and “On the Tips of Your Thoughts.”

The musical and literary wit of Satie is all over these well-known pieces of his. Until Satie, composers always gave serious titles to their works.  Satie’s titles show his ascerbic wit and often obscure references, such as his Dried Embryos of Edriophthalmians – the latter is a type of crustacian.  The music also “dries out” the theme of Chopin’s Funeral March, giving it a bright C Major key to completely transform it. The Genuine Floppy Preludes for a Dog, played by Marielle, don’t sound a whit floppy.

The piano duets allow the sisters to deliver their best super-precise and synchronized style – whether they be sitting at one keyboard or at separate ones, as on many of their other recordings. The first set, Three Pieces in the Shape of a Pear, makes fun of old fogeys devoted to moth-eaten academic forms and also conjures up the image of a rotating pear-shaped toy top.  The last group of duets, Three Rising Little Pieces, was inspired by the stories of Gargantua and Pantagruel and as the title suggests, has many references to the culinary arts.  A Piéce Montée is tiered cake.

Sonics are great, the digapack packaging is nicely decorated, but please, ladies, don’t print the note booklet all in caps!

 – John Sunier

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