Satie: Parade; Trois gymnopédies; Mercure; Relâche; Cinéma

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Satie
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Parade; Trois gymnopédies; Mercure; Relâche; Cinéma
PERFORMER: Nancy SO/Jérôme Kaltenbach
CATALOGUE NO: 8.554279
Even by Diaghilev’s remarkable track-record for bringing together outstanding artists, the first production of the ‘Ballet réaliste’ Parade was an exceptional event. The scenario was by Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso provided the cubist décor and costumes, Léonide Massine’s choreography juxtaposed extreme agility with deliberately awkward steps, and the extraordinary mechanistic music was provided by the arch-eccentric, Erik Satie. Unsurprisingly, this cock-snooking, surrealist tour de force, containing attention-grabbing novelties, such as revolvers, sirens and clappers, provoked a scandale resulting in a court case and prison sentence for Satie (which he managed somehow to avoid serving). Ironically, one ‘instrument’ which initially caused indignation, the typewriter, is rapidly becoming a distinctly exotic effect.

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Jérôme Kaltenbach obviously relishes the the boisterous elements of Satie’s masterpiece, but it is nonetheless too ‘nice’. There is a surfeit of bonhomie and not enough anarchic danger. This pervasive geniality makes it difficult to understand why Parade, or the equally provocative ballets Mercure and Relâche, or even the omnipresent Gymnopédies ever had the capacity to cause shock and outrage. Nevertheless, for those wishing to acquaint themselves with Satie’s orchestral works, this recording is not much more cupable of domesticating the composer than its rivals, and it is markedly cheaper. Christopher Dingle