Recorded on 03/25/2002, uploaded on 04/01/2009
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Perpetually stimulating for artists of
all types, France's blend of fresh thought and strong tradition is exemplified
by Erik Satie. Throughout his creative life, Satie sought to avoid the inauthentic,
the falsely emotional, the unobservant glance at the commonplace. In artistic
circles, Satie was a peripatetic disturber of the peace. He is owed a great
debt by countless others (including the group of subsequent French composers
known as "Les Six") who emulated and developed his ideas of harmony, melodic
line, and musical architecture.
Satie's music does not order itself into
one style. The songs presented here include three parlor tunes alongside
several miniature art songs. Tendrement and the forthright, heady Je te veux would
be perfectly at home in a popular music hall, and La Diva de l'Empire could
easily become a vehicle for a fin du siècle grisette. In the latter, however,
Satie's uncompromising compositional integrity helps his listener focus vividly
on the "leetle girl" with the mocking smile. In the two waltzes, a predictable
lilt never obscures Satie's erotic intention and appreciation for his poets'
ability to surprise. For this recording, arrangements of La Diva and Je te veux
were commissioned from composer Easley Blackwood.
art songs have a bracing directness; they never dissemble. When the text ends,
so does the music. Elegie is an unblinking, sad look backward, not without a
certain theatricality. By contrast, Sylvie is a shy, adoring paean to a
beloved, set over a modulating accompaniment moving in circular patterns. The
art songs were arranged by Robert Caby (1905-1992), a composer and ardent
admirer of Satie's music. A former classmate of Jean-Paul Sartre, Caby knew
Satie for little more than a year, but became a close friend who devotedly
visited the elder composer at Paris's Saint-Joseph Hospital until Satie's death
on July 1, 1925. For the remainder of his own life, Caby kept fresh his
devotion through the editing and orchestration of Satie's works and by
contributing numerous articles to music journals. Caby employed winds and
strings (as does Blackwood) to expand upon, yet respect, the brisk simplicity
of the original piano accompaniments. A subtle use of accent instruments (such
as the clock-like percussion blocks in Daphénéo and the harp figures in Les
Anges) keeps the music buoyant.
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