Following his compendious sets of music by the outstanding figures of Minimalism such as Philip Glass, Terry Riley and Michael Nyman, Jeroen van Veen returns to Brilliant Classics with new recordings of the grandfather, inspiring figure of the genre, Erik Satie. Not that Satie himself would have recognised the term, coined by Nyman in the early 70s, but in saying new things in a quiet voice, swimming against the tide of Romanticism, he influenced not only Debussy, Ravel, Les Six and countless artists – of any medium - working in Paris during the early decades of the last century, but came to represent a totemic figure for artists in 1960s New York and London – again, painters and sculptors no less than composers – who went their own ways down diverse paths, from Cage and Cardew to Glass.
Now a century and a half after his birth comes the most complete set yet of Satie’s piano music, though Satie’s attitude to his works – and the attitude of his age towards him – was sufficiently eccentric and partial that much remains unpublished, even unheard. However, Jeroen van Veen’s set is distinguished by the first ‘complete’ performance on record (or at least, on the set’s digital version) of Vexations. This unpublished four-bar bass-line, extended to 16 bars by harmonisation, came to the notice of John Cage, who organised the first performance in which Satie’s suggestion of 840 repetitions was taken literally. Honouring Satie’s tempo marking of ‘Très Lent’, Vexations thus occupies a duration of around 24 hours. The CD set contains the first 47 repetitions. Satie is everywhere – not only in the Gymnopédies heard so frequently on film and TV but the gentle calm of the other, early sets of piano music; then also in the Muzak which he pioneered, part in jest, part social commentary, part useful service; in the zany cabaret music which made his name, and a little money during his lifetime, thanks to successful collaborations with Cocteau, Picasso and others who instantly recognised a true original. Here is a unique and bargain-priced opportunity to discover the full range of his artistic achievement.
This set contains the complete music for piano by Erik Satie, including the works for 4 hands.
Satie’s piano music became immensely popular in the 70’s of the last century, when pianists like Reinbert de Leeuw and Aldo Ciccolini took it out of the realm of “serious classical music”. Especially the Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes became “Music for the Millons” and adorned many amateur’s piano stand.
This set proves however that there is much more than the Gymnopédies. Satie created a whole world of revolutionary aesthetics, mixing the serious with the absurd, the sense and the nonsense, the surreal and the banal. He had immense influence on composers after him, including Cage, Stravinsky and the Minimalists like Glass, Nyman and others.
Pianist Jeroen van Veen, the Champion of Minimalism, is the ideal interpreter of Satie, his playing, quasi-naïve, is hypnotic, entering another sound and time dimension.
Excellent liner notes by a musicologist and the artist himself.