Erik Satie

Nouvelles pièces froides (New Cold Pieces), for piano


    Nouvelles Pièces froides ("New Cold Pieces") consists of three pieces for solo piano: "Sur un mur" (On a Wall), "Sur un arbre" (On a Tree), and "Sur un pont" (On a Bridge). At first glance, this little set of pieces appears to be yet another Satie triptych (Satie was obsessed with the number three and its spiritual implications); indeed, the first two pieces, "Sur un mur" and "Sur un arbre," certainly belong together, as they employ the same melody with different harmonic settings.

    As musicologists have noted, these first two pieces are reminiscent of the Scuola Cantorum-inspired music Satie was composing at this time -- they resembled academic exercises in which a given melody is harmonized in a variety of different ways. Both pieces repeat the "given" eight-measure melody three times, with "Sur un mur" using a chordal accompaniment while "Sur un arbre" bathes the melody in gentle arpeggiated figures. However, the third piece, "Sur un pont," does not fit the trinitarian structure; it is different in texture and character from the first two. Its rigorously contrapuntal nature also suggests a degree of academicism, but its very different affect is striking. By the end of this third piece, however, some of Satie's characteristic irreverence makes an appearance in the form of some unexpected harmonic twists and turns.

    These pieces were not published in Satie's lifetime, perhaps because they were intended as little more than experiments following his return to formal education and the subsequent revision of his compositional style. They are important, however, because they indicate Satie's awareness of the music of his contemporaries -- the pieces contain harmonies suggestive of Debussy and Fauré -- and also his facility in adopting the musical languages of these contemporary composers.


    1. Sur un mur (On a wall)
    2. Sur un arbre (On a Tree)
    3. Sur on pont (On a Bridge)

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Brilliant Classics 95350BR
    2015 Erato / Warner Classics 0825646047963
    2012 MDG / Zebralution
    2012 EMI Classics
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94087
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099968582
    2008 Orion 83124
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93559
    2005 Audiophile Records 018
    2004 MDG 6131067
    2003 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243585602
    2003 Decca 000023002
    2002 EMI Music Distribution 74534
    2002 EMI Classics / EMI Music Distribution 575147
    2002 Forlane 16591
    2000 Mandala 4975/79
    1998 EMI Music Distribution 72814
    1995 Accord 200902
    1994 Mandala 4821
    1994 Naxos 550697
    1989 EMI Music Distribution 62774
    1989 Decca / London 421713
    Accord 201022
    Emergo 3970
    Brilliant Classics 93559/1