SATIE: Gnossiennes; Ogives; Petite ouverture á danser; Sarabandes; Gymnopédies – Reinbert de Leeuw, piano – Philips

by | Jul 28, 2006 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

SATIE: Gnossiennes; Ogives; Petite ouverture á danser; Sarabandes; Gymnopédies – Reinbert de Leeuw, piano – Philips “Universal Classics” Series B0001059-02, 66:49 : 
 
Boy, did something ever go wrong here! This is the worst-sounding piano recording I have heard in many years. It is very low level, muddy, muffled, dulled, no high end, with a sub-bass sound like moving furniture around.  Completely unlistenable!  Where in the world did the engineers in charge of this Universal Classic reissue series get the master tapes for this?  Or had they been archived to some digital form and screwed up in that process? This series evidently retails for only around $7 to $8 but that’s no excuse; Naxos puts out generally superb-sounding CDs at that price.

The overarching thing about de Leeuw’s Satie performances is that he takes all the works at about half the tempo of everyone else.  In the process some of the them become quite different sorts of music, with an increase in the often mystical Satiesque strains.  It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but can be addictive. If you want to hear it properly reproduced, you’ll have to pay about double for each of the three volumes – still available – from which the above failure was extracted.  Sonics on them are clean and crisp, though the first two were recorded on analog tape in l977:

SATIE: Early Piano Works, Vol. 1 – Reinbert de Leeuw – Philips 412 243-2
SATIE: Early Piano Works, Vol. 2 – Reinbert de Leeuw – Philips 420 472-2
SATIE: Danses gothiques; Quatre préludes etc. – Reinbert de Leeuw – Philips 454 048-2

– John Sunier

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