Erik Satie

Sarabandes (3) for piano

    Description by Alexander Carpenter

    The Trois Sarabandes for piano number among Satie's best known "trinitarian" piano works, including the Trois Gymnopedies, and the Trois Gnossiennes. In 1916 Satie's good friend Roland-Manuel described the Sarabandes thus: "these Sarabandes mark a date in the evolution of our music: here are three short pieces of an unprecedented harmonic technique, born of an entirely new aesthetic, which create a unique atmosphere, a sonorous magic of complete originality." Certainly this is true of much of Satie's early music, but especially the Sarabandes. These three pieces introduced a number of Satie techniques that would typify his early style, including the use of modes, and unresolved dissonances.

    It has been suggested that the Sarabandes were directly influenced by Gustav Chabrier's opera Le Roi malgre lui, which Satie heard for the first time mere months before the appearance of the Sarabandes. Satie was no doubt taken by Chabrier's liberal use of seventh and ninth chords; however, as musicologist Alan Gillmor has noted, while Chabrier used these chords for color within an otherwise tonal context, Satie, in a sense, emancipated these chords, creating chains of "unresolved dissonances." Even though these pieces retain key signatures and nominal tonal centers, there is a sense of tonality being suspended as modal, plainchant-like melodies combined with evocative but non-functional diatonic harmonies.

    Satie's music is often described as forward-looking, and indeed much of his music, some of the ballets in particular, clearly anticipate major movements in art and music, including Dadaism, Cubism, and Surrealism, by many years. In the case of the Sarabandes, one could perhaps extend this argument, and look forward 20 years to the music of Schoenberg, who insisted on the "emancipation of the dissonance" in the early years of the twentieth century. While Satie's Sarabandes are by no means atonal, in Gillmor's words, their music "comes very near to denying the constraining demands of the functional tonal system."


    1. No. 1, in F minor
    2. No. 2, "à Maurice Ravel"
    3. No. 3, in B flat minor

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 BIS BIS 2225
    2017 Grand Piano GP 761
    2016 Brilliant Classics 95350BR
    2016 Sony Classical 88875192922
    2015 Erato / Warner Classics 0825646047963
    2014 Bella Musica BM 312453
    2012 MDG / Zebralution
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94087
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099968582
    2010 Sony Classical 88697720132
    2007 Scandinavian Classics 220510
    2007 Nato 10062
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93559
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93302
    2007 Brilliant 93180
    2006 Orange Mountain Music OMM 0025
    2006 Philips 4657706
    2006 Naxos 8 552137/8
    2005 Audiophile Classics 14
    2005 EMI Music Distribution 49702
    2005 Ddd 99384
    2004 MSR Classics 1097
    2003 MDG 6131065
    2003 Philips 000105902
    2003 Classic Collection 99896
    2003 Ensayo 9702
    2003 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243585602
    2003 Decca 000023002
    2003 EMI Classics
    2002 EMI Music Distribution 74534
    2002 Forlane 16591
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 568994
    2000 Mandala 4975/79
    2000 Naxos 8 556688
    1998 Philips 462161
    1996 Swedish Society Discofil 1070
    1995 Philips 446672
    1995 Classico 126
    1994 BIS 586
    1994 Mandala 4821
    1994 Naxos 550696
    1992 Vox 5011
    1992 EMI Music Distribution 67282
    Accord 201022
    Accord 200072
    Brilliant 93180/24
    Brilliant Classics 93559/1
    Nuova Era 7202
    Fanfare 3439