The lingering despair of Satie's gnossienes and gymnopedies are among the most affected compositions from the last century, and Roge transmits this fragility such that one becomes cautious of other Satie interpreters after experiencing his delicate phrasing. In addition to the artistic quality of Roge's pianism, this disc is a very comprehensive survey of Satie's piano works, although it neglects the gorgeous nocturnes that can be found on a recording by Roge unfortunately titled "after the rain..the soft sounds of Erik Satie".
Japanese label Triton has released a Pascal Rogé album with a rather remarkable program; Crystal Dream features the eminent French pianist in a program that interweaves short piano pieces by Erik Satie with others written by contemporary Japanese composer Takashi Yoshimatsu, mostly pieces drawn from his Pleiades Dances. Both composers employ relatively simple melodic concepts harmonized with elegant, though elemental, kinds of accompaniments, so perhaps the combination makes sense. On the other hand, Satie never lived into the age of rock-based pop music, his engagement with the popular consisting mainly of French music hall tunes, and later in life, a sort of half-understood perception of ragtime rhythm. Yoshimatsu, however, would not be Yoshimatsu if it weren't for his strong connection to pop, though admittedly in Satie's case the pop group Blood, Sweat & Tears' adaptation of his Gymnopédie No. 1 once earned Satie a Grammy-winning single. Either way, one might wonder "how does this combination-slash-conversation work?"
This box collects several recordings of Satie's piano music by Dutch pianist Reinbert de Leeuw, going back as far as 1977, with an English-language DVD (not reviewed, but the idea is attractive) including a fictionalized presentation of Satie's relationship with artist Suzanne Valadon (after they broke up, he hung in his window cataloging her faults, but the film apparently doesn't get to the fun stuff). The provenance of the music on the third CD, consisting mostly of songs and featuring soprano Marjanne Kweksilber, is unclear from the booklet, and it's a poor choice for the non-Francophone – no song texts are provided at all. The piano music from de Leeuw is another matter, however. It is immediately distinctive in its slow tempos and dreamy, rather lugubrious tone.
Following his compendious sets of music by the outstanding figures of Minimalism such as Philip Glass, Terry Riley and Michael Nyman, Jeroen van Veen returns to Brilliant Classics with new recordings of the grandfather, inspiring figure of the genre, Erik Satie. Not that Satie himself would have recognised the term, coined by Nyman in the early 70s, but in saying new things in a quiet voice, swimming against the tide of Romanticism, he influenced not only Debussy, Ravel, Les Six and countless artists of any medium…
The protean and prolific Jeroen van Veen turns his attention to Erik Satie’s complete piano works for a 9-CD boxed set that ties in with the composer’s 150th birthday year. In a way, the collection is completer than complete. It includes all of Satie’s published and unpublished works for solo piano and piano duo, piano arrangements of theater scores as Le fils des étoiles, Darius Milhaud’s transcription of Cinéma.
This is a marvelous release, equally perfect in conception, execution, and engineering. The program locates the intellectual origins of the American avant-garde composers Morton Feldman and John Cage not in postwar European developments, but in the music of Erik Satie, who with each decade seems a more pioneering figure. Feldman and Cage here seem not modernists, but postmodernists. Front and center at the beginning is Feldman's masterpiece Rothko Chapel (1967), a chamber-ensemble-and-chorus evocation of the Houston, Texas, chapel adorned with paintings by, and partly designed by, the Abstract Expressionist painter Mark Rothko.