While the recordings, by and large, are licensed from other labels, LTM's series devoted to the works of Erik Satie are well curated and attempt to draw parallels between Satie's work and its larger contexts; for example, its role in the art world of his day. Satie didn't associate himself with very many other musicians until the last few years of his life; publicly intensely competitive but privately insecure, he simply got along better with visual artists, writers, poets, and others in non-musical disciplines. Designating this collection Cubist Works 1913-1924 is stretching the point a bit; whatever technique one might devise to create "Cubist music," Satie didn't use. However, he was a strong proponent of the style and a friend to the painter most readily associated with Cubism, Pablo Picasso. This program includes the two large collaborations between Satie and Picasso, the ballets Parade (1917) and Mercure (1924) in both their piano and orchestral versions, along with three short pieces; the organ Divertissement: La Statue Retrouvée, written for a masquerade ball that contained a short choreography with designs by Picasso, and Trois Valses Distinguées du Precieux Degoute, a suite written as a malicious jab at Ravel and premiered at a 1916 gallery showing that included Picasso constitute the first two. Les Pantins dansant is not connected to Picasso, but to feminist futurist Valentine de Saint-Point, no doubt inspired by her poem of the same title.
The piano version of Parade is not tremendously common and it is a charming and immediate work; Satie's ragtime-derived flourishes are a bit more evident in the piano version than in his more familiar orchestration. Pianist Boris Gorisek can be a little heavy-handed, but apart from a couple of minor gaffes the piano music is played acceptably well. The orchestral pieces -- Mercure from a Hyperion recording led by Ronald Corp in 1989, and Parade in an energetic 1952 performance by the Cologne Symphony for which no conductor credit is provided -- are served a bit more adequately than the orchestral ones, but that might partly be by chance, given the derivative nature of the sources used. The music essentially serves as support material for the essay -- informative as it is -- in the booklet, and that is printed in tiny type against busy backgrounds, so it's hard to read. The Divertissement: La Statue Retrouvée actually is, however, an original LTM recording, sounding a little like it was played on an electronic organ.
Parade played a central role in the development of neo-classicism; although his work in such a vein did not go right into Parade, at that time Picasso was looking to the forms of the past in order to escape the dark angularities of Cubism and to develop a lighter approach. Satie, likewise, would opt for a "return to a classical simplicity" with his work to follow, the cantata Socrate. One wonders if the two discussed the matter of the neo-classic, which would come to dominate art and music in France in the 1920s. In a related development, poet Guillaume Apollinaire coined what he called "sur-realism" in a newspaper review of Parade; later that year he wrote the play Les Mamelles de Tirésias in order to illustrate what he meant. Parade also established the reputation of its scenarist, a young journalist and ambulance driver named Jean Cocteau. LTM's Cubist Works 1913-1924 effectively puts that all into perspective through its fine liner notes; one wishes only that the musical selection was of equal quality.