Satie-Saens

The title is a little joke on putting these two French composers together. They probably knew each other at the time but were probably rivals. Both were impressionists – Saint-Saens was a more ‘serious’ composer. Both created work that has lasted. 

By Camille Saint-Saens (1835 – 1921) I have Best of 2 cds that includes Carnival of The Animals, Dance Macabre; Cello Music/Sibelius: Violin C; 2cd set of the Piano Concertos; an lp to cd transfer of various Violin music; Symphony with organ/Poulenc: Concerto for Organ. The various concertos are more romantic than impressionist.  

I knew some of his music before I knew who he was. Some pieces have/ are used for ballet, film & TV soundtracks, so you may already know them. I remember being stunned by The Aquarium in the film Days of Heaven. It a too short lush piece of a floating dream. The Swan is a ballet standard. Both are from Carnival of The Animals. If you are unfamiliar Carnival is a good place to start.

By Erik Satie (1866 – 1925): I have a cd of Piano Works; lp to cd transfers of various piano; lp to cd transfer Velvet Gentleman: an amazing electronic interpretation of this work from 1970 by The Camarata Contemporary Chamber Group. All  include the Gymnopedies. Velvet has the names of the pieces spoken before they get played & it is a delight. It is also one of the best electronic recordings every made.

Satie wasn’t taken that serious though thanks to titles like Mona Lisa’s Moustache. If he had used titles like Etude in C# he probably would have been more respected 🙂 He had a real sense humour but I’ve been told his piano music is as challenging as anything by Chopin.

I have many versions of The Gymnopedies. Orchestral, classical guitar, flute, harp even wordless soprano. It has also become a jazz standard & even shows up in rock. The pieces have a drifting, spiral quality that is very meditative, & depending on who is playing becomes quite spiritual. It certainly set the stage for every piece of new age music you’ve ever heard.

Feelings

The feel was upon him – he never knew when to expect it – it wasn’t regular like day becoming night to return to day – there was no time of day or night – it was always there – it could happen at any time – taking a shower – reading the paper – walking down the street – sound asleep – it was never sudden though – it would be a gradual awareness that yes he was feeling that way again – it wasn’t like walking into a wall or waking up to a room on fire – too subtle for that – some days he would realize he’d been lost in the feeling for hours days – not that it was unpleasant but it was something he wanted to control – to limit – to at least be aware of sooner when it was happening so he would – what – he wasn’t sure what he would do – couldn’t avoid it – couldn’t make it last longer or happen at will – it would just be there and he’d wonder when did this start or is it just the last one still happening – still on the go and he’d just forgotten he was feeling it and went on to feeling other things other ways – it somehow didn’t seem fair that he could be so powerless over his own self – it was as if he wasn’t himself – that it was his body but that he wasn’t at home in it without that sense of ah yes I can sit down when I want to – I feel how I want to when I want to –

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