Alexander Tharaud, pianist
New releases devoted to Erik Satie are rarities these days, as if the charm and quirkiness of his music have dulled and faded from fashion. But pianist Alexandre Tharaud's repackaging of 71 of Satie's miniatures is an ideal way of rekindling interest in this still-elusive and misunderstood figure. Tharaud devotes the first disc to solo piano pieces, in which the six marvelous Gnossiennes are threaded through a sequence that includes the Avent dernières pensées and wonderfully named sets such as the Embryons desséchés and Heures séculaires et instantanées.
In the seven piano pieces that make up Le Piège de Méduse, Tharaud "prepares" the piano by placing sheets of paper on the strings as Satie evidently did for the premiere, anticipating John Cage and George Crumb's invention by more than 20 years.
On the second disc, Tharaud is joined by a succession of other musicians for duos that range from the piano four-hands version of the Trois Morceaux en Forme de Poire to tiny pieces for trumpet and piano and violin and piano, via songs with the tenor Jean Delescluse and the chanteuse Juliette. The chansons could easily be my favourite of the second disc, as Juliette's magical voice is never operatic but perfectly surreal.
There are so many amazing things to be found in Satie. Art that hides art.