Notes and Editorial Reviews
Véritables Préludes flasques (pour un chien). Croquis et aqaceries d’un gros bonhomme en bois. Heures séculaires et instantanées.
Cinq portraits d’un oiseau rare
Jan Kaspersen (pn)
UNITED 2012140 (39: 16)
definitely has his own way of playing Satie’s music. In his hands, it’s a bit crisper, more wide-awake, less wispy and atmospheric. I rather like it: it’s a different way of looking at the composer, and heaven knows that we need different musical viewpoints in this modern world of Generic Sameness in classical interpretation. Indeed, the way he played the
gave a certain cockeyed Middle Eastern feel to the music. It lopes along, as if one foot were slightly off-kilter with the other. The problem is that, as with all CD or LP collections of Satie, I’m not sure that the composer intended us to listen to all the
in order, followed by all the
in order. They’re just too much alike in tempo, mood, key, and even thematic material. It wears on you a bit.
The mood, of course, changes considerably with the
Véritables Préludes flasques.
Once again, Kaspersen puts Satie into crisp, regular rhythms, eschewing too much “ambience” in the music, and again it works. I noted in the booklet that Kaspersen not only studied classical piano with Herman Koppel, but also jazz piano with Duke Jordan (Sheila’s former husband) and jazz musical theory with the late George Russell, one of my personal heroes in all of music. Kaspersen’s approach to Satie is especially delightful in the way he plays the “Tyrolienne Turque” of the
Croquis et aquaceries d’un gros bonhomme en bois;
he does indeed manage to convey atmosphere in the “Danse maigre,” despite reliance (again) on a firm rhythm, and in the last piece, “Españaña,” he quite simply delights in the composer’s quirky approach to Spanish music (which, of course, quotes the famous
), almost sounding as if it were played by an automaton. In the liner notes, Kaspersen claims a similarity of Satie to Thelonious Monk, but although I see his point insofar as the adjacent but not blended harmonic quirks go, and more so in the way they lived—almost aggressively loyal to their music, unwilling to compromise, and living lives outside even the mainstream of their own musical worlds. I wonder, however, if Kaspersen knows that in 1916, Satie played the piano music of Jelly Roll Morton in Paris cafés? It had been recommended to him by his friend, the conductor Ernest Ansermet.
Kaspersen’s own little suite,
Five Portraits of a Rare Bird,
contains, appropriately enough, elements of both Satie and Monk in the pianist’s own fun little tribute. Overall, a too-brief disc that explores some of the underlying qualities of Satie that are all too rarely brought to the fore.
FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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