Sunday, February 19, 2017

Erik Satie - Orchestral Works (Michel Plasson)


Information

Composer: Erik Satie
  • (01-04) En habit de cheval
  • (05) Gymnopédie No. 1 (orch. Debussy)
  • (06) Gymnopédie No. 3 (orch. Debussy)
  • (07-08) Parade
  • (09-14) Relâche
  • (15) Gnossienne No. 3  (orch. Poulenc)
  • (16-19) La belle excentrique
  • (20-24) 5 Grimaces pour ''Le Songe d'une Nuit d'ete'' (arr. Milhaud)
  • (25) Le Piccadilly

Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse
Michel Plasson, conductor
Date: 1988
Label: EMI


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Review

This recent entry in EMI's budget-priced "Encore" series contains all of the orchestral works by Erik Satie that most collectors would want on their shelves. (Of course the Gymnopédies originally were works for the piano, but Debussy's sensitive orchestrations of the first and third have introduced them to the orchestral repertoire as well. Poulenc's less familiar orchestration of one of the Gnossiennes is no less effective.) Parade, a "realist ballet" based on an idea by Jean Cocteau, is written in his most public style. Sirens, gunshots, the sound of a typewriter, and other outré orchestral effects complement the music's tendency to turn on a dime. The ballet Relâche - the French word for "no show tonight" – is from the end of Satie's life. Its outrageousness is a little less obvious than that of Parade, but still, there's plenty in it to confuse and confound the bourgeoisie. It elevates inconsequentiality to an art form! In comparison, the remaining works are musical pencil-sketches of no great importance except for their entertainment value. (Most of them also exist in versions for piano or piano duet.)

Plasson's recording dates from 1988 and features excellent digital sound. His interpretations maintain a straight face, and they even have a coolness to them that is not foreign to Satie's musical personality. One can't imagine Satie breaking a sweat, so neither does Plasson. One of the best ways to ruin a joke is to laugh while telling it, and Plasson, to his credit, does not make this mistake. At the same time, these performances are so even-tempered that there's a risk of one piece seeming to flow into the next. Is this Satie's fault, or Plasson's? Whatever the case, this is another of those CDs that are most enjoyable when they aren't played all the way through.

-- Raymond Tuttle © 2006, Classical Net

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Erik Satie (17 May 1866 – 1 July 1925) was a French composer and pianist. Satie was a colourful figure in the early 20th century Parisian avant-garde. His work was a precursor to later artistic movements such as minimalism, Surrealism, repetitive music, and the Theatre of the Absurd. In addition to his body of music, Satie was "a thinker with a gift of eloquence" who left a remarkable set of writings, having contributed work for a range of publications, from the dadaist 391 to the American culture chronicle Vanity Fair.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erik_Satie

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Michel Plasson (born 2 October 1933 in Paris, France) is a French conductor. He was a student of Lazare Lévy at the Conservatoire de Paris. In 1968, Plasson became principal conductor of the Orchestre et Chœurs du Capitole de Toulouse. resigned as principal conductor in 2003 and now has the title of "Honorary Conductor", or conductor emeritus. From 1994 to 2001, he was principal conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic. Plasson's recordings were mainly made for EMI/Virgin, and focused upon works by French composers.

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  2. The Gymnopédies are mislabeled on this release. No. 3 is actually No. 1. However, this is not the first time I've seen this happen — it seems this error has tradition.

    Thank you for this disc!

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