Erik Satie

Poudre d'or (Gold Dust), for piano

    Description by Chris Boyes

    Immediately after the turn of the twentieth century, Erik Satie turned his compositional attention, at least partially, to waltz songs, popular in the dance halls of Paris at the time. Most of these pieces were composed for voice and piano or for solo piano. Although only a few of these waltzes have been published, Satie's sketchbooks contain dozens of waltz strains. It seems that Satie was regularly composing waltzes for different venues in the city and for certain performers. Only the most famous of these waltzes were published. A series of these, published by Baudoux and later by Bellon, Ponscarme & Cie, was known as the Danses d'Erik Satie. Included in this series is the song performed by the famous singer Paulette Darty, Je te veux (1902). Other waltzes published were Tendrement (1903) and La Diva de l'Empire (1904). The first waltz of the series was Poudre d'Or (1901), which translates as Gold Dust, issued in 1902. Poudre d'Or was published as a waltz for solo piano, with the musical material being drawn from four waltz strains composed by Satie. However, Poudre d'Or was also the title of an orchestral suite consisting of six strains, sharing only the primary strain with the piano version. The sketches of the orchestral suite are very sparse and do not convey the completed work. A number of parts for individual instruments of the suite have been recovered, but not enough to reconstruct the entire piece.

    Therefore, Poudre d'Or has one complete identity as a piano waltz. The structure of this piece is relatively basic, especially for Satie. This song consists of a waltz and a trio, with an introduction and a coda. As stated earlier, Poudre d'Or consists of four melodic strains. The first two strains make up the waltz proper, while the final two strains comprise the trio. The overall structure is rounded, as the waltz returns after the completion of the trio. Also, the first statement of the waltz and the trio also have a rounded form, with the first strain of each section returning after each section's second strain. The introduction lasts eight bars, while the coda consists of a restatement of the primary strain followed by five quick four bar phrases. From only four melodic strains an extensive form of almost 300 bars is created.

    This piece is also virtually conventional in its treatment of melody, accompaniment, and harmony. Throughout most of Poudre d'Or, the melody is presented in a single voice at the top of the texture, with the standard waltz accompaniment (oom-pah-pah) below. Satie, for the most part, leaves out his quirky chromaticism in this work. Only at the end of a few phrases does a bit of chromaticism sneak into the texture, leading to the cadence. The piece ends with a grandiose series of cadential patterns, which seem to poke fun at the exorbitant finales of "classical" works.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Sony Classical 88875177492
    2016 BIS BIS 2215
    2016 Brilliant Classics 95350BR
    2016 ABC Classics ABC 4812670
    2016 Erato 555263
    2016 Sony Classical 88875192922
    2015 Alto MCSCD 1276
    2015 Erato / Warner Classics 0825646047963
    2014 Harmonia Mundi HMX 290871015
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099967815326
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94087
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099968582
    2010 Vox 3032
    2010 Sony Classical 88697720132
    2009 Harmonia Mundi 902017
    2009 Harmonia Mundi HMC902017/18
    2009 Sony BMG / Sony Classical 8869753207
    2008 ABC Classics 4766805
    2008 Virgin Classics 22050
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93559
    2007 ABC Classics 4766289
    2006 Virgin 363296
    2005 Ddd 99384
    2003 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243585602
    2003 Sony Classical 87280
    2003 Decca 000023002
    2002 EMI Music Distribution 74534
    2002 Forlane 16591
    2001 Virgin 61846
    2000 RCA 66153
    2000 Mandala 4975/79
    1997 Decca 4581052
    1997 JVC Compact Discs 6506
    1995 Accord 200902
    1994 Mandala 4821
    1993 Virgin / Virgin Classics 59296
    1992 SBK Records 48283
    1989 Decca / London 421713
    Accord 201022
    Erato 85827
    Virgin Classics 62363
    EMI Music Distribution 62017
    Brilliant Classics 93559/4
    Conifer 51512
    Fanfare 3439