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 Stream
Morceaux (3) en forme de poire (3 pieces in the form of a pear), for piano, 4 hands or orchestra
1 04:05 Amazon
2 00:47 Amazon
3 01:27 Amazon
4 02:43 Amazon
5 02:12 Amazon
6 02:21 Amazon
7 01:31 Amazon
8 02:33 Amazon
Relâche (No Performance Today), ballet for orchestra (also piano version)
9 01:09 Amazon
10 00:42 Amazon
11 00:24 Amazon
12 01:14 Amazon
13 00:37 Amazon
14 00:38 Amazon
15 00:54 Amazon
16 00:39 Amazon
17 00:42 Amazon
18 01:04 Amazon
19 01:15 Amazon
Cinéma: Entr'acte symphonique de Relâche, for orchestra (also piano; also arr. by Milhaud for piano, 4 hands)
20 01:29 Amazon
21 00:42 Amazon
22 00:57 Amazon
23 00:42 Amazon
24 01:25 Amazon
25 00:51 Amazon
26 01:35 Amazon
27 01:10 Amazon
28 01:00 Amazon
29 01:05 Amazon
Relâche (No Performance Today), ballet for orchestra (also piano version)
30 00:56 Amazon
31 00:54 Amazon
32 01:15 Amazon
33 00:34 Amazon
34 01:13 Amazon
35 00:51 Amazon
36 01:21 Amazon
37 00:57 Amazon
38 00:46 Amazon
39 01:05 Amazon
40 00:43 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick