Regis disc of piano works by Satie has been compiled and
remastered from two earlier Saga discs. It contains most
of the well-known keyboard works of Satie and a few works,
which, for some listeners, may not be as familiar.
the two different Saga recordings are absolutely poles apart.
On the first recording the sound itself is perhaps a little
too close and is particularly lacking in warmth and depth,
with a resultant ‘tinny’ quality. Also, on each track the
very substantial background hiss is introduced immediately
and abruptly just as the piano starts, rather than with a
more subtle fade. This is combined with an unexpected and
rushed fade-out during the final chord of each track from
this recording. This practice disappointingly serves only
to destroy the calm and wistful atmosphere of many of the
pieces. It is not clear, but these unattractive fading problems
seem to be a feature of the original recording as opposed
to the remastered version presented here.
second recording is much improved, however, with virtually
no extraneous background noise and a much more rounded sound
to the piano. The fading both into and out of the tracks
is not in any way intrusive, and the whole listening experience
is transformed into something much more pleasant.
music almost speaks for itself, in terms of quality. Covering
a wide range of his time as a composer, this compilation
is subtitled The Velvet Gentleman, which is how Satie
was known as an owner of a number of identical velvet suits.
Of the most recognisable of Satie’s works, the three Gymnopédies,
are unfortunately subject to the poor sound already mentioned,
as are three of the Gnossiennes and the three selected Nocturnes.
This defect, which makes listening less pleasurable also
affects the transcription of Ragtime from Satie’s
ballet Parade and, sadly, the Sports et Divertissements.
works not affected by poor sound are highly recommendable,
although the collection as a whole is sensitively performed
by John McCabe, who effectively identifies with and responds
expertly to the melancholy, pensive and longing nature of
much of this music. The Sports et Divertissements and Chapitres
tournés en tous sens provide some of the most distinctive
interpretations, while a charming nostalgia is found in Je
te veux – valse and the Valse-Ballet.
being remastered, a concerted effort to create some consistency
in sound quality would have made this disc a good deal easier