Thursday, June 09, 2016

Alexandre Tharaud plays Erik Satie – Part I: Solo (Audio video)

Στο πρώτο CD, με τίτλο "Solo", του διπλού άλμπουμ "Avant-dernières pensées" με μουσική για πιάνο του Ερίκ Σατί, o Αλεξάντρ Ταρό, ένας από τους μεγαλύτερους πιανίστες της γενιάς του, ερμηνεύει γνωστά έργα του Γάλλου συνθέτη, όπως "Gnossiennes (1-6)", "Petite Ouverture à danser", "Première Gymnopédie", "Le Piccadilly", "Le piège de Méduse" (με προετοιμασμένο πιάνο στο οποίο οι χορδές έχουν τροποποιηθεί με φύλλα χαρτιού, για να παράγουν ασυνήθιστους χρωματικούς τόνους και εφέ), "Pièces froides", "Avant-dernières Pensées", "Gambades", "Embryons desséchés", "Poudre d'or" και άλλα. Το άλμπουμ κυκλοφόρησε από τη γαλλική δισκογραφική εταιρεία Harmonia Mundi το 2009.

Alexandre Tharaud has been recording a wide variety of music for harmonia mundi, from Bach and Couperin (on piano) to Chopin, Ravel (the complete solo works) and the contemporary Thierry Pιcou. His new two-CD Satie album is elegant in several ways: certainly in Theraud's performance, but also in harmonia mundi's packaging design, including a 76-page booklet, and in concept, with the first CD devoted to pieces for solo piano, and the second a collection of "duos": for piano four-hands, piano/violin, piano/trumpet (for one very short piece), and voice with piano accompaniment.

"Elegance" in performance does not preclude warmth, and Tharaud’s playing is not in the "deadpan" style some other pianists use for Satie: a sort of tongue-in-cheek neutral style that can be almost spooky and brings out the avant-garde qualities of Satie. Without sentimentalizing the composer, Tharaud plays even some of the most gnomic (and famous) pieces, like the Gymnopιdie No.1 and the first two Gnossiennes, with some of the feeling one might expect in a performance of, say, a Chopin Prelude, along with clarity and sheer beauty of tone. The more salon-like pieces, the quasi-pop waltzes and galops, are played with gusto but not parodistic exaggeration.

Pieces from early to late Satie are included; from 1888 (the first Gymnopιdie) to 1924 (a piano-four-hands arrangement by Darius Milhaud of the Cinιma interlude from the ballet Relβche). The "Solo" CD scatters the six Gnossiennes throughout the program, beginning and ending with the first and last respectively, but otherwise does not separate the movements of those weirdly-named suites, such as the Veritable Flaccid Preludes (for a dog) and the Three Distinguished Waltzes of the Disgusted Dandy, not to mention the suite that gives the album its title, Second-Last Thoughts (consisting of a more reasonably named Idyll, Dawn-Song, and Meditation). One particular surprise on this disc is the use of a "prepared piano" for the seven pieces from the 1914 Dada-like stage production Le piège de Méduse (Medusa's Trap), originally intended to accompany the dances of a mechanical monkey. According to the booklet notes, for the first performance Satie slid sheets of paper between the piano strings to create a "straw-like" sound; Tharaud goes him one better by adding pieces of plastic and metal too, creating sounds which will remind the listener of the prepared-piano pieces of Satie – admirer John Cage – though evidently Cage "invented" the technique without knowing that Satie had been there, done that.


There's far too much music here to discuss the performances in detail – more than 30 works in all, many containing multiple pieces – so I'm going to have to ask that you take on faith the fact that there are no finer Satie performances in the catalog. Whether it's the characterful simplicity of Alexandre Tharaud's readings of the Gnossiennes (which frame the other pieces in the solo recital that comprises the first disc in this two-disc set), or his light, witty touch in Le Piccadilly, the Valse-ballet, Les pantins dansent, or the Petit Ouverture à danser, it's all just delightful. But it's the intelligence of this program, the thoughtfulness that went into making it, that gives you the best indication of how splendid the performances must be.

As just mentioned, the first disc consists of solo piano works, both the very familiar and some comparative rarities, programmed for maximum contrast and variety. The second disc contains duets for piano with, respectively, another pianist, cabaret singer (the wonderful Juliette), tenor, violin, and trumpet (La Statue retrouvée). Once again the programing allows for maximum variety, even in these often very brief pieces. As with the first disc, specific piano works (those for four hands in this case: Three Pieces in the Form of a Pear, La Belle Excentrique, and Cinéma) frame the other selections, creating a program rich in variety, ideal for continuous listening.

The fact that Satie's music, with its wacky titles and lack of pretension, often isn't "serious" doesn't mean that it shouldn't be taken seriously. As a composer his range may be limited, but he's not lacking in content, and most Satie recitals either collect all the most popular stuff, monotony be damned, or take a "library" approach and simply play everything in chronological or some other sequence that pays scant attention to why one piece should follow another, musically speaking. In assembling this program based entirely on musical values, thanks to Tharaud and his colleagues, Satie's stature as a unique musical voice emerges all the more impressively. Magnificently engineered, with an extensive booklet that's a model of its kind, there is simply no better or more entertaining way to get to know him.

Note: Unlike the other works on this album, the performance of Erik Satie's "Le Piège de Méduse" (tracks 19 to 24) is on a prepared piano in which the strings have been altered to produce unusual tone colors and effects. In this piece, Satie's score specifies placing sheets of paper on the piano strings in order to imitate the "mechanical" sounds of a monkey puppet character in the play.

Source: David Hurwitz (

Erik Satie (1866-1925)

150ή επέτειος από τη γέννησή του / 150th anniversary of his birth

Alexandre Tharaud plays Erik Satie
Part I: Solo

1. Gnossienne No.1
2. Petite Ouverture à danser
3. Première Gymnopédie
4. Véritables Préludes flasques (pour un Chien)
5. Gnossienne No.2
6. Les trois Valses distinguées du précieux dégoûté
7. Gnossienne No.3
8. Le Piccadilly
9. Descriptions automatiques
10. Gnossienne No.4
11. Les pantins dansent
12. Le piège de Méduse. Sept Pièces pour Piano *
13. Pièces froides
14. Avant-dernières Pensées
15. Gambades
16. Embryons desséchés
17. Gnossienne No.5
18. Valse-Ballet
19. Heures séculaires et instantanées
20. Première Pensée Rose+Croix
21. Poudre d'or
22. Gnossienne No.6

* piano préparé

Alexandre Tharaud, piano

Harmonia Mundi 2009

(HD 1080p – Audio video)

Though he is well known for his interpretations of French keyboard music, Alexandre Tharaud has also achieved critical acclaim for his J.S. Bach and Chopin. Moreover, he has championed much contemporary music, particularly works by Mauricio Kagel and Thierry Pécou. Tharaud has even managed to mix both Baroque with modern fare in his concerts, fashioning programs built around Rameau (billed as Hommage à Rameau) and Couperin (Hommage à Couperin), wherein the pianist interleaves works by the respective Baroque master with those of modern composers like Renaud Gagneux, Gerard Pesson, Francois-Bernard Mâche, and others. Tharaud is involved in other imaginative programming activity, like an all-Satie concert he has regularly given that employs a singer and narrator for certain numbers. Tharaud has often appeared with many of the leading orchestras in Europe and collaborated in chamber works with flutist Philippe Bernold, violinist Pierre Amoyal, cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras, and others. For a pianist who began recording only from about 1995, Tharaud has amassed quite a sizable discography, with 30 or more titles available from various labels, including Harmonia Mundi, Naxos, Virgin Classics, and Naïve.

Alexandre Tharaud was born in Paris on December 9, 1968. His father was a singer and director of operas. At five Alexandre began piano lessons and at 14 enrolled at the Paris Conservatory. Among his teachers there were Germaine Mounier and Théodor Paraskivesco. Tharaud had later studies with Leon Fleisher, Nikita Magaloff, and Claude Helffer. In 1987 Tharaud won the Barcelona-based Maria Callas Competition and two years later finished second at the prestigious ARD Competition in Munich. He quickly drew notice on his concert tours throughout France and Europe. Naxos issued his first recording in 1995, a disc of piano works by Milhaud.

Journal Intime In 2000-2001 Tharaud recorded five volumes of the complete chamber works of Poulenc for the Naxos label. Tharaud received the Grand Prix de l'Académie Charles-Cros in 2003 for his two-disc set on Harmonia Mundi of the complete solo piano works of Ravel. In October 2006, Tharaud received lavish praise when he gave the world-premiere performance of Thierry Pécou's Piano Concerto (l'Oiseau Innumérable) at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees. Tharaud's versatility in chamber music was underscored in 2008-2009 by his acclaimed performances on tour throughout the U.S., South Korea, and Japan with Queyras. Tharaud's later recordings include the 2010 Virgin Classics recording of Chopin works entitled Mon Journal Intime.

Source: Robert Cummings (

Ο Γάλλος συνθέτης και πιανίστας Ερίκ Σατί γεννήθηκε στις 17 Μαΐου 1866 στην πόλη Ονφλέρ της Νορμανδίας.

Ο Σατί έχει γράψει τόσο μουσική για θεατρικά έργα και μπαλέτο όσο και κομμάτια για πιάνο. Οι συνθέσεις του ήταν πρωτότυπες, μινιμαλιστικές και συχνά παράξενες, ενώ η μουσική του χαρακτηρίζεται ως μουσική της καθημερινής ζωής με έντονο ρεαλισμό, μακριά από ρομαντικές εξάρσεις.

Είναι γνωστός ως εκκεντρική προσωπικότητα που, αν και δεν ήταν ιδιαίτερα δημοφιλής στο ευρύ κοινό, απολάμβανε την εκτίμηση και το θαυμασμό πολλών νέων συνθετών και μουσικών. Λίγο καιρό πριν εκδώσει τη συλλογή του "Gymnopedies" (1888), ο Σατί προτιμούσε να συστήνεται ως "gymnopedist" ενώ αργότερα ως "phonometrican" (δηλαδή εκείνος που μετρά τον ήχο), αποφεύγοντας σταθερά τον όρο «μουσικός».

Ο Ερίκ Σατί υπήρξε εκπρόσωπος της γαλλικής αβάν γκαρντ και μέχρι τα 40 του χρόνια η μουσική του δε γινόταν ιδιαίτερα σεβαστή καθώς αποτελείτο από επαναλαμβανόμενα μονότονα και απλουστευτικά μοτίβα. Τον πρώτο καιρό έπαιζε μουσική σε καμπαρέ και καφετέριες για τα προς το ζην. Το 1884 ολοκλήρωσε την πρώτη του σύνθεση αλλά ιδιαίτερη επιτυχία απέκτησε μετά το 1911 όταν ο Μωρίς Ραβέλ παρουσίασε μερικά από τα πρώτα κομμάτια του Σατί και ο Κλωντ Ντεμπυσσύ ενορχήστρωσε δύο από τα έργα της συλλογής του "Gymnopédies". Μετά από αυτή την επιτυχία, ο Σατί συνέχισε να γράφει μουσική με διάφορους παράξενους και συχνά χιουμοριστικούς τίτλους όπως: «Embryons desséchés» ( 1913 ), «Choses vues à droite et à gauche» ( 1914 ) και «Sports et divertissements» (1914).

Το 1917 η παράσταση μπαλέτου "Parade" γελοιοποίησε το όνομα του Σατί ως μουσικού με το σκάνδαλο που προκάλεσε. Τη μουσική του μπαλέτου είχε γράψει ο Σατί ενώ το σενάριο υπέγραφε ο Ζαν Κοκτώ και τα σκηνικά  ο Πάμπλο Πικάσο, για λογαριασμό του Σεργκέι Ντιαγκίλεφ των ρωσικών μπαλέτων.

Ο Σατί υπήρξε επίσης, μέλος της ομάδας των Έξι συνθετών (Groupe des Six) η οποία αντιτάχθηκε στα μουσικά κινήματα του ιμπρεσιονισμού, του σλαβισμού και του μεταβαγκνερισμού και προώθησε την καθαρή ρεαλιστική μουσική. Τα έργα του Σατί αποτέλεσαν προπομπό και εμπνευστή μεταγενέστερων καλλιτεχνικών κινημάτων όπως αυτό του μινιμαλισμού και του θεάτρου του Παραλόγου. Ο εκκεντρικός Γάλλος μουσικός πέθανε την 1η Ιουλίου του 1925 και ενταφιάστηκε στο κοιμητήριο του Αρκέιγ της Γαλλίας.

Πηγή:, 2010

Erik Satie was an important French composer from the generation of Debussy. Best remembered for several groups of piano pieces, including Trois Gymnopédies (1888), Trois Sarabandes (1887) and Trois Gnossiennes (1890), he was championed by Jean Cocteau and helped create the famous group of French composers, Les Six, which was fashioned after his artistic ideal of simplicity in the extreme. Some have viewed certain of his stylistic traits as components of Impressionism, but his harmonies and melodies have relatively little in common with the characteristics of that school. Much of his music has a subdued character, and its charm comes through in its directness and its lack of allegiance to any one aesthetic. Often his melodies are melancholy and hesitant, his moods exotic or humorous, and his compositions as a whole, or their several constituent episodes, short. He was a musical maverick who probably influenced Debussy and did influence Ravel, who freely acknowledged as much. After Satie's second period of study, he began turning more serious in his compositions, eventually producing his inspiring cantata, Socrate, considered by many his greatest work and clearly demonstrating a previously unexhibited agility. In his last decade he turned out several ballets, including Parade and Relâche, indicating his growing predilection for program and theater music. Satie was also a pianist of some ability.

As a child Erik Satie showed interest in music and began taking piano lessons from a local church organist, named Vinot. While he progressed during this period, he showed no unusual gifts. In 1879 he enrolled in the Paris Conservatory, where he studied under Descombe (piano) and Lavignac (solfeggio), but failed to meet minimum requirements and was expelled in 1882. Satie departed Paris on November 15, 1886, to join the infantry in Arras, but he found military life distasteful and intentionally courted illness to relieve himself of duty. That same year his first works were published: Elégie, Trois Mélodies, and Chanson.

The years following his military service formed a bohemian period in Satie's life, the most significant events of which would be the beginnings of his friendship with Debussy, his exposure to eastern music at the Paris World Exhibition, and his association with a number of philosophical and religious organizations (most notably the Rosicrucian Brotherhood).

In 1905 he decided to resume musical study, enrolling in the conservative and controversial Schola Cantorum, run by Vincent d'Indy. His music took on a more academic and rigorous quality, and also began to exhibit the dry wit that would become hallmarks of his style. Many of his compositions received odd titles, especially after 1910, such as Dried up embryos and Three real flabby preludes (for a dog). Some of his works also featured odd instructions for the performer, not intended to be taken seriously, as in his 1893 piano work, Vexations, which carries the admonition in the score, "To play this motif 840 times in succession, it would be advisable to prepare oneself beforehand, in the deepest silence, by serious immobilities".

In 1925 Satie developed pleurisy and his fragile health worsened. He was taken to St. Joseph Hospital, where he lived on for several months. He received the last rites of the Catholic Church in his final days, and died on July 1, 1925.

Source: Rovi Staff (

More photos

See also

Alexandre Tharaud plays Erik Satie – Part II: Duos (Audio video)

Alexandre Tharaud – All the posts

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