Erik Satie ‎– Gymnopédies · Parade · Jack-In-The-Box · La Belle Excentrique · Les Aventures De Mercure

Decca Viva! ‎– VIV 66
Vinyl, LP

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A1 Gymnopedies I & II
Orchestrated By – Debussy*
La Belle Excentrique 4:43
A2.1 Grande Ritournelle
A2.2 Valse Du Mystérieux Baiser Dans L'Oeil
A3 Les Aventures De Mercure (Ballet) 13:33
Jack-In-The-Box 6:48
B1.1 Prélude
Orchestrated By – Milhaud*
B1.2 Entracte
Orchestrated By – Milhaud*
B1.3 Finale
Orchestrated By – Milhaud*
B2 Parade (Ballet Réaliste) 13:50



"Music by Erik Satie
One of the many compulsive neuroses that inhabited Satie's brain was a mystical obsession with the figure three, perhaps a relic of the trinitarian symbolism associated with the Rosicrucian movement to which he belonged in his youth. A large number of his works are grouped in sets of three, among them the Trois Gymnopédies (1888), whose enigmatic title is coined from two Greek words meaning 'naked youths'. The simple but elusive melodies encouraged Debussy to orchestrate the first and third, which he reversed as numbers one and two. A quite different aspect of Satie emerges from La Belle Excentrique (1920), from which we hear the Grande Ritournelle and Valse. He wrote this comic music-hall piece for the dancer Caryathis, also immortalised in a gorgeous poster by Leon Bakst and in a series of books by her husband Marcel Jouhandeau which drew inspiration from her outrageous character. The beautiful 'excentrique' died as recently as 1971, and Satie's music remains an apt homage. For the ballet Les Aventures de Mercure (1924) he produced a score which mingles fairground brashness with passages of unexpected lyricism. The abduction of Proserpina is danced to a cafe-concert tune, a tuba bubbles quaintly to represent the signs of the zodiac, and a trumpet personifies 'chaos' with a polka rhythm. Jack-in-the-Box (1899) is a much earlier ballet put together by Satie in his Bohemian days to a scenario by a Montmartre crony. The manuscript, which he always thought he'd lost on a bus, was only found after his death: it had been crammed down the back of his decrepit piano, from where it was rescued and later orchestrated by Darius Milhaud, one of the few friends with whom he never quarrelled. Diaghilev staged the work in 1926, a year after Satie's death, with settings by Derain. Milhaud's tactful orchestration preserves the bouncy humour, appealing naivete and deft time changes of this brief triptych (that magic figure again!) to suggest the actions of the hero. On the same bill Diaghilev featured Parade (1917), which is assuredly Satie's most considerable ballet. At its wartime premiere the audience was scandalised by Picasso's Cubist designs and a score which included a siren, typewriter, pistol and lottery wheel. Shepherded by sinister 'Managers' intended to embody the deadening effect of modern commercialism as opposed to the 'art' of the performers, a Chinese conjurer sets himself alight, an 'American Girl' dances a ragtime, and acrobats cavort to music that is unforgivingly astringent. Camarata's arrangement of Parade goes one further than the composer: added to the score, among other things, are one hundred men reciting The Lord's Prayer, crowd noises in a strip club, the birth of a baby, the atom bomb, and snippets from orations by Roosevelt and Hitler. What would Satie have thought? He was a prickly collaborator who raged at attempts to alter what he had written. On the other hand, unpredictable as always, he might well have giggled into his beard and approved."
James Harding