WORKS: Quatre préludes; Sonneries de la Rose-Croix; Première pensée Rose-Croix
PERFORMER: Reinbert de Leeuw (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 454 048-2
Satie’s piano music is difficult. Its provocative simplicity has lured many musicians into the quagmire of interpretative dilemmas obscured by the sparseness of notes on the page.
This collection of works from the 1890s finds Satie at his most arcane and devotionally eccentric. The preponderantly slow, mystical music (searching or aimless depending on your point of view) could be tailor-made for the designer spiritualism market in this last decade of our century.
A profoundly intelligent musician, Reinbert de Leeuw should be ideally suited to this repertoire. Here, however, the difficulties creep in, for he seems to have thought rather too much. The prevailing feeling is that he is agonising over every chord before committing himself. This pointillistic effect is exacerbated by a mannerism which, while only a minor irritation in his previous, more user-friendly Satie disc, is almost fatal here. De Leeuw hangs onto the penultimate note of every phrase or gesture. This is presumably to place cadences, but instead only generates impatience and the occasional impression of a bastardised Viennese waltz: not exactly endearing traits in such enigmatic music. Disappointing. Christopher Dingle