Satie: Avant-Dernieres Pensees (Selected Piano Works, Vol. 1)

Satie: Avant-Dernieres Pensees (Selected Piano Works, Vol. 1)

by Erik SatieErik Satie


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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.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/10/2007
Label: Ltm
UPC: 5024545467420
catalogNumber: 2501
Rank: 193395

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Erik Satie   Primary Artist

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