Avant-Garde Art \ Erik Satie - Socrate + Melodies [LTMCD 2459]
This acclaimed recording of Erik Satie's symphonic drama Socrate is performed by Music Projects London, and was originally released on Factory Classical. Completed in the spring of 1918, Socrate is a typically eccentric piece from avant-garde composer Erik Satie. Written in three movements for voice (four sopranos) and small orchestra (or piano), the text is extracted from three Platonic dialogues and depicts the last days of the Greek philosopher Socrates, condemned to death for corrupting the young men of Athens. The subtitle 'symphonic drama' belies the understatement and economy of Socrate, which Satie aimed to make "white and pure like antiquity". To this end, Satie claimed that he ate only white foods.
Socrate itself lasts for 30 minutes, and is augmented by five short song cycles written by Satie between 1886 and 1923: Trois Melodies (1886), Trois Autres Melodies, Trois Melodies (1916), Quatres Petite Melodies (all 1920) and the absurdist Ludions ('bottle imps') from 1923, the latter with lyrics by poet Léon-Paul Fargue.
The 61 minute recording was made at All Saints Church, Petersham, in 1989. Sopranos Susan Bickley, Eileen Hulse and Patricia Rosario perform with pianist Robin Bowman and conductor Richard Bernas. This edition features revised artwork and liner notes, including full texts of Socrate and all 18 Melodies in both French and English.
1. Portrait of Socrate
2. Bords d'Illissus
3. Mort de Socrate
4. Les Anges
7. Le Statue de Bronze
9. Le Chapelier
11. Chanson Médiévale
12. Les Fleurs
17. Air du Rat
19. Le Grenouille Américaine
20. Air du Poete
21. Chanson du Chat
Available on CD and digital download.
"Musically Socrate is respectfully reticent, providing an unruffled static sound decor, but its effect is unexpectedly impressive, and the stark simplicity of the telling of Socrates' death is very moving. It is admirably performed by the singers and instrumentalists, and the recording is bright and clear. In the songs there is a simple melodic charm, and I salute Eileen Hulse's rapt tone in Les Anges and Chanson, and Patricia Rosario's ringing soprano in Le Chapelier" (The Gramophone, 10/1991)
"Satie's account of the last days of Socrates, written for voices and orchestra, and typically the piece finds a meta-drama through aloofness and the removal of operatic stylisation" (The Wire, 12/2006)
"Beautiful, moving and compassionate" (Yahoo.com, 10/2006)
"A revelation - a piece for voices and orchestra that somehow manages to sidestep all bombast and hysteria and emerge as a pulsating human document" (Plan B, 02/2007)