Satie—The Early Piano Works

Reinbert de Leeuw

1998: Philips Classics/Duo 289 462 162-2

    CD 1


  1. No. 1
  2. No. 2
  3. No. 3
  4. No. 4
  5. No. 5
  6. No. 6
  7. Petite ouverture à danser
  8. Prélude de «La porte héroïque du ciel»
  9. Danses gothiques


  10. I
  11. II
  12. III
  13. IV


  14. No. 1
  15. No. 2
  16. No. 3

    CD 2


  1. No. 1
  2. No. 2
  3. No. 3

    Sonneries de la Rose-Croix

  4. Air de l’Ordre
  5. Air du Grand Maître
  6. Air du Grand Prieur

    Pièces froides

  7. Airs à fair fuir - I
  8. Airs à fair fuir - II
  9. Airs à fair fuir - III
  10. Danses de travers - I
  11. Danses de travers - II
  12. Danses de travers - III
  13. Prière

    4 Préludes

  14. Fête donnée par des Chevaliers Normands en l’Honneur d’un jeune Demoiselle
  15. Prélude d’Eginhard
  16. 1er Prélude du Nazaréen
  17. 2ème Prélude du Nazaréen

Includes “Disquiet and Dislocation,” an article by Max Harrison.

I’m hardly qualified to comment on the compositional qualities of these pieces, so I’ll just note (more as a listener than as a pianist, which I also am) that Satie’s pieces reaches me like a broken music-box which plays tunes that come out slightly off and slightly differently each time their intended melody repeats, with the effect that it’s simultaneously somewhat charming, disturbing, and generative of further reflection and perhaps developing thought.

As a pianist I do enjoy playing these pieces, more because of their sonorous vignettes than because of their obvious technical un-challenging-ness, which I admit does appeal to me too. Continuing with that music-box analogy, though, playing them feels as though I’m turning the crank of that music-box rather than delivering the performance of the written work, as each new chord shift comes as a bit of a surprise to me. If I studied the pieces, practiced and memorized them, and absorbed them as wholes, as I would have done to some extent as a piano student, perhaps I would have a different sense of them, but this is where they land with me today.