The fifth installment in pianist Steffen Schleiermacher's edition of Erik Satie's piano music puts together several of Satie's most cryptic and enigmatic pieces. While the programming makes sense, Satie: Piano Music Vol. 5 breaks down in the interpretation. Schleiermacher has tremendous power and technique at his disposal, but sensitivity is not his strong suit, and when his interpretations of Satie are held up against those of Aldo Ciccolini or Jean-Yves Thibaudet, they seem unnecessarily heavy, loud, and forceful.
The Petits chorals (12) come off the best here -- Schleiermacher's strident and granitic reading provides the organ-like sonority that Satie doubtlessly intended. But the "tapestry" portrayed in Schleiermacher's reading of the diaphanous Prélude en Tapisserie is more reminiscent of sackcloth than of silk. In the case of the Nocturnes of 1919-1920, the metrical feeling of the music feels uncomfortably regular in pulse, and Schleiermacher seems to be calling attention to the dissonant harmonic elements in the music rather than projecting the feeling of a movement as a whole. Satie: Piano Music Vol. 5 is great if you are interested in a strongly Germanic approach to Satie. It is extremely well-recorded -- perhaps a little too well, as Schleiermacher's piano has a bit of a "hiccup" in its pedal that occasionally adds a steely glint of color to Satie's generally white-on-white surfaces.