Classical CD Reviews
SATIE: “The 4-Handed Piano” – Pascal Rogé & Jean-Philippe Collard, piano/ Chantal Juillet, violin – Decca
Published on November 21, 2013
ERIK SATIE: “The 4-Handed Piano” [TrackList follows] – Pascal Rogé & Jean-Philippe Collard, piano/ Chantal Juillet, violin – Decca 289 455 401-2, 63:30 ****:
There are lots of Satie albums available, but this one is a bit different in its focusing strongly on the four-handed piano works. There is also a final selection for violin and piano: Things Seen to the Right and Left (Without Glasses), one of the composer’s most witty/oddball titles. Satie wrote music mainly for the piano, though we was an even worse pianist than Ravel. He loved to mock the Wagnerites, with their overblown music, and another of his satirical targets was fellow composer Maurice Ravel, partly because he got all the public attention. His Three Pieces in the Form of a Pear (which opens the disc in the four-hand version) actually consists of seven pieces, and seems put together from the tunes he created while paying the piano in various Montmartre taverns. He later explained that since the suite was in the form of a pear it couldn’t therefore be accused of being formless.
Then there follows a piano-four-hands reduction of Satie’s odd ballet Parade, which caused a riot in Paris almost like that caused earlier by The Rite of Spring. This version of course omits the siren, typewriter and pistol shots of the orchestral version. One of Satie’s direct parodies of Ravel is La Belle Excentrique for piano four hands, which partly satirizes Ravel’s Waltzes Noble and Sentimental. Apercus desagreables and En habit de chaval, both for piano four hands, come from the period when Satie was taking classes at the Schola Cantorum and they display his newly-acquired skills in counterpoint.
It’s interesting to compare some of these piano-four-hands selections with the piano solo versions of the same selections in Klara Körmendi’s set of five Naxos CDs of Satie’s complete piano music. As expected, the four-hands versions sounded more full and Decca’s sonic presentation somewhat more enjoyable, but I was surprised that La Belle Excentrique sounded like a different piece. Don’t be surprised by the shortness of some of the 35 tracks; two of the four movements of En habit de cheval are only 31 seconds long. By the way, I think this was the first note booklet with a Satie album that revealed why he may have been considered so eccentric—he was an alchoholic.
TrackList:1–7 Morceaux (3) en forme de poire (3 pieces in the form of a pear), for piano duet - Pascal Rogé & Jean-Philippe Collard, piano (14:28) 8 Parade, ballet in 1 scene, for piano duet - Pascal Rogé & Jean-Philippe Collard (11:06) 9 Sarabandes (3) for piano – Pascal Rogé, solo (5:39) 16–20 La belle excentrique, “serious fantasy” for piano, 4 hands) – Pascal Rogé & Jean-Philippe Collard (9:15) 21–23 Aperçus désagréables (Unpleasant glimpses), 3 pieces for piano duet – Pascal Rogé & Jean-Philippe Collard (5:06) 24 Pièces (6) de la période 1906-1913, for piano: Désespoir agréable – Pascal Rogé (1:01) 25 Pièces (6) de la période 1906-1913, for piano: Songe-Creux – Pascal Rogé (2:00) 26–29 En habit de cheval (In riding habit), 4 pieces for piano duet - Pascal Rogé & Jean-Philippe Collard (5:38) 30–32 Petites pièces (3) montées (3 Little Stuffed Pieces) - Pascal Rogé & Jean-Philippe Collard (4:02) 33–35 Choses vues à droite et à gauche; sans lunettes (Things seen right-to-left; without glasses), for violin & piano – Chantal Juillet, v. & Pascal Rogé (4:34)