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Erik Satie \ Art Works 1892-1924 [TWI 1258 CD]

Les Disques du Crepuscule presents a comprehensive 4 disc CD anthology by visionary French avant-garde composer Erik Satie, collecting together piano works associated with the Dada, Cubist and Surrealist art movements, as well as his celebrated musique d'ameublement (furniture music) written between 1917 and 1923.

Disc 1 offers Satie's extraordinary Vexations, the score for which is just three lines long, yet a complete performance (840 repetitions) may last for anything between 14 and 28 hours. First performed under the supervision of John Cage in 1963, this radical, enigmatic, proto-Surrealist work is now recognised as a significant milestone in the avant-garde canon. This meditative 70 minute recording features 40 repetitions of the motif, performed by Alan Marks on piano.

Disc 2 is a collection of Dada-related works, including music used by Francis Picabia, Tristan Tzara, Kurt Schwitters and René Clair. An enthusiastic Dada activist in Paris between 1920 and 1924, Satie collaborated extensively with Tzara, Man Ray, Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau, and wrote often in Picabia's journal 391. Performed on piano by Bojan Gorisek, this disc includes Trois morceaux en forme de poire, performed by Satie in 1923 at Tzara's notorious Soirée du Coeur à Barbe, as well as Ragtime Dada, an extract from the ballet Parade performed at Dada events staged by Kurt Schwitters and Theo van Doesburg in 1922. Also included is Satie's score for Entr'acte, Picabia's dazzling multi-media 'instantaneist' ballet. Relâche dates from 1924, while Cinéma is Satie's music for an intermission film by René Clair. Both are arrangements for solo piano.

Cubist Works on Disc 3 offers four works composed by Satie between 1913 and 1924 for his collaborations with Pablo Picasso. These include piano and orchestral versions of his scores for the celebrated 'Cubist' ballets Parade (1917) and Mercure (1924), as well as a seldom-heard organ 'diversion', The Statue Found (1923). This third disc also includes The Puppets Are Dancing, written for the French Futurist dancer/poet Valentine de Saint-Point in 1913, and the ludic Trois valses distinguées du précieux dégouté ('Three Disgustingly Precious Waltzes'), a barbed swipe at rival composer Maurice Ravel, premiered at an exhibition of works by Picasso, Matisse and others in 1916. Solo piano performed by Bojan Gorisek.

Disc 4 leads with Satie's often referenced (but seldom heard) musique d'ameublement (furniture music), written to order for various benefactors between 1917 and 1923. Intended to be heard in the background, rather than actually listened to, these five disparate pieces have been cited as a conceptual precursor to the ambient, minimal, functional and serial works of Brian Eno, Paul Hindemith, Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Also included are the experimental pieces Descriptions automatiques and Sports et divertissements, the latter a collection of 21 miniatures from 1914 published with illustrations by Charles Martin. Disc 4 also finds space for Satie's single-act, neo-Dada lyric comedy Le Piège de Médusa, comprising 'seven tiny dances for Jonah the Monkey', illustrated by Cubist painter Georges Braque., as well as his 'Christian ballet' Uspud from 1892.

The 4 full length CDs are housed in a clamshell box, which also includes an illustrated 32 page booklet featuring detailed liner notes by James Nice and Stephen Whittington.

CD 1 tracklist:

1. Vexations (69.42)

CD2 tracklist:

1. Trois morceaux en forme de poire
2. Ragtime Dada
3. Relâche Pt.1
4. Entr'acte (Cinéma)
5. Relâche Pt.2

CD3 tracklist:

1. Les pantins dansent
2. Trois valses distinguées du précieux dégouté
3. Parade (piano, 4 mains)
4. Mercure (piano)
5. Divertissement (La statue retrouvée)
6. Parade (orchestral)
7. Mercure (orchestral)

CD4 tracklist:

1. Furniture Music Pts.1-5
2. Le Piège de Médusa
3. Descriptions Automatiques
4. Embryons desséchés
5. Sports et divertissements
6. Uspud

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Art Works 1892-1924 [TWI 1258 CD]
4xCD shipping options
Art Works 1892-1924 [TWI 1258 CD]


"The only musician who had eyes" (Man Ray)

"It's not a question of Satie's relevance. He's indispensable" (John Cage)

"Vexations has become a cause celebre within the avant-garde, anticipating many of the arguments about the serious intentions, or otherwise, of John Cage's 4.33 by nearly 60 years. The score consists of three lines of music and Satie's instructions "to be repeated 840 times." On this recording, Alan Marks makes do with a mere 40 repetitions over 70 minutes, but it's enough to reveal the brilliance of Satie's concept. The slippery chromatism he employs means it's easy to become disorientated even well into the piece, and he demands that listeners keep their ears open throughout. Satie issues a visionary warning about the vapid nature of ambient listening, spanking George Winston and weighing in on the side of Morton Feldman before either had been born." (The Wire, 11/2005)

"The Dada disc is highly recommended. There's an appropriately sprightly, trashy feel to much of this music. The main draw here is the ballet in two parts Relâche, premiered just a few months prior to Satie's death. The first part is dominated by quirky, unlikely harmonic combinations, while the second sounds more overtly provocative as a venture into 'low' art. Nevertheless there's still an element of disruption and dislocation lurking under the surface. Similarly Entr'acte (Cinema) opens with a superficially playful movement still underscored with an ominous sense of repetition and borderline discord" (BoomKat, 03/2007)

"Cubist Works shows the artist less concerned with playing catch-up with the innovations of other media than unpacking its implications for his own work. The album collects Satie's collaborations with Pablo Picasso, with Parade and Mercure presented in both solo piano and full orchestra arrangements, as well as two lesser-known incidental pieces. The liner notes are excellent, and by drawing out the explicit links between Satie's work and the frenetic, sectarian art world of Paris in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, LDDC has done a great service to Satie's legacy, allowing the listener to index just how much Satie was both of and ahead of his time" (Dusted, 06/2007)