This box collects several recordings of Satie's piano music by Dutch pianist Reinbert de Leeuw, going back as far as 1977, with an English-language DVD (not reviewed, but the idea is attractive) including a fictionalized presentation of Satie's relationship with artist Suzanne Valadon (after they broke up, he hung in his window cataloging her faults, but the film apparently doesn't get to the fun stuff). The provenance of the music on the third CD, consisting mostly of songs and featuring soprano Marjanne Kweksilber, is unclear from the booklet, and it's a poor choice for the non-Francophone – no song texts are provided at all. The piano music from de Leeuw is another matter, however. It is immediately distinctive in its slow tempos and dreamy, rather lugubrious tone.
Celebrating Erik Satie represents a creative and stimulating selection of jazz arrangements and improvisations. Ximo Tebar is a respected guitarist and creative force from Spain who has taken the compositions of the eccentric, irascible, and innovative French composer and transmuted them into jazz ensemble performances. Tebar shakes things up while retaining enough straight-ahead jazz to appeal to the masses; it's no accident that "En Habit de Cheval" possesses a clear reference to John Coltrane's magnum opus, A Love Supreme (Impulse!, 1964). Like Coltrane, Tebar is fortunate enough to have recruited other outstanding musicians who can implement his complex ideas. The watchword of this album is "plays," with the implications of irony and humor, tinged with Chaplin-esque sadness that characterizes what Tebar and his ensemble, taking a cue from Satie, offer. Satie was an inventive, experimenting composer who influenced musical impressionism and minimalism, which in turn strongly impacted modern jazz.
This is far and away the best playing of Satie's most popular works. Roge's other Satie disk is worth owning as well. Tempos are carefully chosen, with special attention to the subtleties each work presents. I also own Ciccolini and Thibaudet's complete Satie recordings and Roge outshines them at nearly every turn. A must own disc for all true Satie lovers.
The present installment of Arturo Sacchetti’s encyclopedic Organ History survey for Arts Music drops anchor in late-19th/early-20th-century France. It can be argued that the five instrumental sections from Satie’s Mass for the Poor that open this recital lose poignancy when shorn of their surrounding vocal movements, although the organ is a perfect instrument for the composer’s quirky, instantly identifiable harmonic language. By contrast, D’Indy’s Les Vêpres du Commun des Saints, Roussel’s Prélude et Fughetta, and Honegger’s Deux Pièces pour Orgue make an arid, academic impression. After Wayne Marshall’s pulverizing speed through the Pastorale by Roger-Ducasse (Virgin Classics), Sacchetti’s relatively conservative virtuosity proves less engaging. However, his incisive hand/foot coordination enliven Tournemire’s Improvisation on “Te Deum” and Langlais’ Hymne d’Actions de grâces “Te Deum”, although the latter yields to Andrew Herrick’s more vivid and better engineered traversal on Hyperion. Organists looking for an effective, unhackneyed encore should consider Ibert’s Musette or Milhaud’s Pastorale.