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ALBUM TITLE: Satie Piano Works, Vol. 2
WORKS: Piano works, Vol. 2: Sports et Divertissements; Trois Sarabandes; Véritables préludes flasques (pour un chien); Sonneries de la Rose et Croix; Menus propos enfantins, etc
PERFORMER: Noriko Ogawa (piano)


The conductor Paul Sacher used to tell the story of when Honegger, rehearsing one of his symphonies, was asked by the first oboist, ‘Maître, in bar 27, should it be a B natural or a B flat?’ To which Honegger replied, ‘Which would you prefer?’ I suspect something of the same egalitarian spirit may have moved Satie to leave many of his piano pieces without dynamic markings. What should a pianist do? Noriko Ogawa chooses what might seem an honest path of adding very little of her own on this front. But for me, the results are less than persuasive, especially given that the pieces in this volume are generally less melodically interesting than those in her first one (see September 2016). 

Fond though Satie was of repeating phrases, the repetition doesn’t always embody the same rhetorical structure; and even if he admitted being fascinated by the concept of boredom, there are, to my ears, any number of places where crescendos and diminuendos seem called for. Mostly Ogawa plays the rhythms straight, but not in the Sarabandes, the only dances on the disc. Also there are two irritating wrong notes: in the first chord of Sarabande I, the top note is G natural, not G flat; and she plays another wrong note in ‘Les courses’ from Sports et divertissements, rendering Satie’s brief final quotation of the Marseillaise unrecognisable.

Roger Nichols


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