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Satie: The Complete Solo Piano Music

Satie: The Complete Solo Piano Music

by Jean-Yves Thibaudet
Fulfilling the promise of an earlier "teaser" album entitled The Magic of Satie, Jean-Yves Thibaudet presents this five-disc survey of the eccentric Frenchman's complete works for solo piano. Like Thibaudet's complete sets of the solo music of Ravel and Debussy, Satie is a tour de force, filled with lucid pianism that


Fulfilling the promise of an earlier "teaser" album entitled The Magic of Satie, Jean-Yves Thibaudet presents this five-disc survey of the eccentric Frenchman's complete works for solo piano. Like Thibaudet's complete sets of the solo music of Ravel and Debussy, Satie is a tour de force, filled with lucid pianism that is as graceful as it is dignified. While few would argue that Satie's music approaches the heights of his contemporaries, he was certainly a free spirit -- often wonderfully, even bizarrely so -- whose singular voice continues to captivate eight decades after his death. And though other complete Satie sets have appeared over the years (notably Aldo Ciccolini's), it's indeed a pleasure to have a modern one from a pianist of Thibaudet's stature. His collection is organized partly chronologically, partly thematically (the five discs are cleverly imprinted in order with the letters of the composer's name), beginning with the earliest works from the 1880s and '90s, which, oddly enough, also remain the most popular. Thibaudet's readings of the "Gymnopédies" and "Gnossiennes" are plainspoken yet graceful and poised -- terms that well suit this collection as a whole. (Thibaudet includes the newly published seventh "Gnossienne" -- as well as several other recent additions to the Satie catalogue.) The second disc brings further youthful works, including the curious theme and variations called "Vexations," which is to be performed 840 times in succession -- a task that could take up to a full day. Prudently, Thibaudet offers merely three repetitions. The third disc moves on to music composed during Satie's student years at the Schola Cantorum in Paris, as well as works from the 1910s and '20s, including the six Nocturnes and "Cinéma" from 1924, a piano reduction of the composer's very last work, written for a cinematic ballet interlude. The fourth disc takes in Satie's "fantasies" -- whimsical, nonconformist works that include, par exemple, a set of preludes dedicated to a dog. The fifth disc wraps up the set with assorted sundries written throughout Satie's life, ending with the fun and fanciful "Rag-Time Parade" from 1917. The sound is detailed yet not too close up, though it varies somewhat in quality, and Thibaudet's clear-cut, elegant playing allows Satie's curiously compelling music to speak for itself. An essential Satie set.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Patsy Morita
Jean-Yves Thibaudet has undertaken the complete solo piano works of another late nineteenth/early twentieth century French composer: Erik Satie. This even includes a sample of "Vexations," that theme and two variations that Satie instructs to be played slowly, 840 times. It's interesting to compare Thibaudet's interpretations of these works with those of Aldo Ciccolini, who was one of Thibaudet's teachers. Overall, Thibaudet gives a less-Romantic interpretation, with less overt emotion and more introverted abstraction, but it is not overly academic. The music hall pieces, such as "Je te veux" and "Le Piccadilly" have a good dancing tempo that doesn't give often to rubato. In places, repeated figures and phrases do not vary much in speed or volume, which is how most musicians are instructed to add interest to repeated motives. On the other hand, the "Enfantines" pieces, written for children to play, are performed with a great deal of subtle sensitivity. Indeed, Satie's particular (and sometimes peculiar) performance notes are made for interpretations as individual as each performer and are what make his music difficult to perform. Thibaudet certainly skillfully conveys his interpretations to the listener, with minimal additional explanation needed in the liner notes. Most often, what you hear is what the title of the work implies. One note on the sound quality: at the end of the second disc in the music hall pieces, the sound quality between the tracks is noticeably different, as if they were made on different pianos or in different studios.

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  1. Sarabandes (3) for piano
  2. Gymnopédies (3), for piano (also orchestrated by Debussy)
  3. Gnossiennes (6), for piano
  4. Gnossienne, for piano No.7
  5. Petite ouverture à danser, for piano
  6. Pièces froides (Cold Pieces), pieces (6) for piano
  7. The Dreamy Fish (Le poisson rêveur), incidental music for piano
  8. The Angora Ox, for piano (reconstructed by Johny Fritz)
  9. Allegro, for piano
  10. Valse-ballet, for piano
  11. Fantaisie-valse, for piano
  12. Fête donnée par des chevaliers normands en l'honneur d'une jeune demoiselle, for piano
  13. Ogives (4), for piano
  14. Première pensée Rose + Croix, for piano
  15. Leitmotiv du Panthée, for piano
  16. Sonneries de la Rose + Croix, for piano
  17. Danses gothiques (9), for piano
  18. Pages mystiques (3), for piano: Vexations
  19. Modéré, for piano
  20. Verset laïque et somptueux, for piano
  21. Je te veux (I Want You), café-concert song for voice & piano
  22. Tendrement, valse chantée for voice & piano
  23. Poudre d'or (Gold Dust), for piano
  24. La diva de l'Empire, song for voice & piano
  25. Le Piccadilly, march for piano
  26. La belle excentrique, "serious fantasy" for orchestra (or piano, 4 hands): Légende californienne
  27. La belle excentrique, "serious fantasy" for orchestra (or piano, 4 hands): 1. Marche franco-lunaire
  28. La belle excentrique, "serious fantasy" for orchestra (or piano, 4 hands): 2. Valse du "Mystérieux baiser dans l'œil"
  29. Passacaille, for piano
  30. Prélude en tapisserie, for piano
  31. Fugue-valse, for piano
  32. Nouvelles pièces froides (New Cold Pieces), for piano
  33. Fâcheux example, counterpoint excercise for piano
  34. Désespoir agréable, counterpoint excercise for piano
  35. Deux choses: 1. Effornterie, 2. Poésie, for piano
  36. Profondeur, minuet excercise for piano
  37. Songe-creux, minuet excercise for piano
  38. Le prisonnier maussade, minuet excercise for piano
  39. Le grand singe, minuet excercise for piano
  40. Petits chorals (12), for piano
  41. Prélude canin, for piano
  42. Work(s): Arrière-propos
  43. L'enfance de Ko-Quo, for piano
  44. Nouvelles pièces enfantines, pieces (3) for piano
  45. Menus propos enfantins (Childish Chatter), for piano (from "Enfantines")
  46. Enfantillages pittoresques (Picturesque Childishness), for piano (from "Enfantines")
  47. Peccadilles importunes (Tiresome Peccadilloes), for piano (from "Enfantines")
  48. Nocturnes (5) for piano
  49. Nocturne for piano No. 6
  50. Premier menuet, for piano
  51. Rêverie de l'enfance de Pantagruel, for piano (arr. of 1st "Petites pièce montées")
  52. Cinéma: Entr'acte symphonique de Relâche, for orchestra (also piano; also arr. by Milhaud for piano, 4 hands)
  53. Préludes flasques; pour un chien (Flabby preludes; for a dog), for piano
  54. Véritables préludes flasques pour un chien (Truely Flabby Preludes for a Dog), for piano
  55. Descriptions automatiques, for piano
  56. Embryons desséchés (3 dried-up embryos), for piano
  57. Croquis et agaceries d'un gros bonhomme en bois (3 sketches and exasperations of a big wooden fellow), for piano
  58. Chapitres tournés en tous sens (Chapters turned every which way), for piano
  59. Vieux séquins et vieilles cuirasses (Old sequins and armor), for piano
  60. Sports et divertissements (Sports and diversions), pieces (21) for piano
  61. Heures séculaires et instantanées (Age-old and instantaneous hours), pieces (3) for piano
  62. Les valses (3) distinguées du précieux dégoûté (3 distinguished waltzes of a disgusted dandy), for piano
  63. Avant-dernières pensées (Next-to-last thoughts), pieces (3) for piano
  64. Sonatine bureaucratique, for piano
  65. Le fils des étoiles, Chaldean pastoral, 3 preludes for piano
  66. Le Nazaréen, incidental music (2 preludes) for piano
  67. Eginhard, prelude for piano from incidental music
  68. Uspud, Christian ballet in 3 scenes for piano (orchestrated by Canby)
  69. Prélude de La Porte héroïque du ciel (Prelude to "The Heroic Gate of Heaven"), incidental music for piano (or orchestra)
  70. Jack-in-the-Box, pantomime ballet for piano (orchestrated by Milhaud)
  71. La mort de Monsieur Mouche, prelude for piano from incidental music
  72. Pousse l'Amour, operetta: Chanson andalouse
  73. Le Piège de Méduse, dances for piano
  74. Les pantins dansent (The puppets dance), for piano
  75. Grimaces (5) for "A Midsummer Night's Dream," incidental music
  76. Parade, ballet in 1 scene for orchestra

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