Steffen Schleiermacher / Holger Falk: Erik Satie Ultimate Melodies and Songs

review satie x1 cong

Satie is best known for his classic piano piece Gymnopédie No1 (you’ve all heard it) and was endearingly eccentric. He was once so poor he shared a suit with lifelong friend JP Contamine de Latour, meaning they could only go out one at a time, and when he died, his flat — never visited by anyone, ever — was found to contain a large number of umbrellas, and two grand pianos placed one on top of the other, the upper used as storage.

Gymnopédie No1 is not on this new collection — it’s piano only — but the opening piece, Three Melodies From 1886 (Angels, Elegy and Sylvie) is as beautiful, melancholic and haunting. These were written when poverty forced him to live in a “walk-in cupboard” as he put it, doubtless the reason for the melancholy.

Satie was wide-ranging in his interests, from serious music to cabaret and burlesque, and to esoteric drama, and it’s all on this CD.

The next three pieces, Three Other Melodies (Song, Medieval Song and Flowers) veer more to the musical hall, though Flowers is more delicate, as is the next piece, the snappily entitled Hymne Pour Le 408 “Salut Drapeau” Du “Prince De Byzance” Du Sâr Peladan.

It goes more music hall with Un Dîner à l’Élysée and Le Veuf and it stays in the realm of entertaining the masses from then on, including singing-as-trumpet and whistling (Trois Mélodies Sans Paroles). There are 20 named pieces and 41 tracks so, as the CD plays through, it does get a little fragmentary but it’s still an enjoyable listen.

Steffen Schleiermacher plays piano and Holger Falk is the baritone.

Out on MDG, 613 1926-2.

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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