Erik Satie

Erik Satie: Dada Works & Entr'actes

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Consider Erik Satie, 20 years ago thought of in many quarters as a footnote to Debussy and Ravel. Now it's clear that he anticipated a whole host of modern attitudes, changing significantly over his 35-year compositional career. The association of Satie and Dada at first seems startling, for the insouciant humor of Satie and the assertive, intentionally noisy aesthetic of Dada seem like two different things. Yet Satie did have some glancing contact with Dada and Surrealism at the end of his life, and Slovenian-born pianist Bojan Gorisek makes a strong case for Satie as Dadaist. The main work in question is Relâche, written shortly before Satie's death in 1924. It was a sort of bizarrely comic multimedia extravaganza, involving music, dance, and film (the work here is presented as Satie originally composed it, with the Cinéma film score as an entr'acte between the two parts of the dance). Satie's pieces are tiny, abrupt gestures that do indeed seem, in Gorisek's reading, to have borrowed something from Dada's resolute but meaningless brushstrokes. Sample track 19, the finale of the first part of Relâche, or track 25, the Marche funèbre from the Entr'acte -- it definitely refers to Chopin's funeral march, but with the harmonic content eviscerated so that it seems like one of the floating thoughts that goes by in a Salvador Dalí painting. The little Ragtime Dada of 1917, not among the most-often heard of Satie's works, has an explicit connection with the artistic movement, and the opening Trois morceaux en forme de poire (brutally misspelled, along with other items in the track list -- and close perusal of the booklet does not turn up the name of the second pianist, if there indeed was one), one of the more anarchic of Satie's earlier humorous works, makes an excellent curtain raiser. Strongly recommended for Satie fans and free spirits of all kinds.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Morceaux (3) en forme de poire (3 pieces in the form of a pear), for piano, 4 hands or orchestra
1
4:05
2
0:47
3
1:27
4
2:43
5
2:12
6
2:21
7
1:31
8
2:33
Relâche (No Performance Today), ballet for orchestra (also piano version)
9
1:09
10
0:42
11
0:24
12
1:14
13
0:37
14
0:38
15
0:54
16
0:39
17
0:42
18
1:04
19
1:15
Cinéma: Entr'acte symphonique de Relâche, for orchestra (also piano; also arr. by Milhaud for piano, 4 hands)
20
1:29
21
0:42
22
0:57
23
0:42
24
1:25
25
0:51
26
1:35
27
1:10
28
1:00
29
1:05
Relâche (No Performance Today), ballet for orchestra (also piano version)
30
0:56
31
0:54
32
1:15
33
0:34
34
1:13
35
0:51
36
1:21
37
0:57
38
0:46
39
1:05
40
0:43
blue highlight denotes track pick