After the death of Erik Satie, dozens of unsent love letters were found in his Paris apartment. Now composer Elena Kats-Chernin and pianist Tamara-Anna Cislowska send those letters off, in 26 meditative and passionate piano miniatures inspired by Satie’s extraordinary life and music.
The album is a musical memoir from one composer to another, from the Uzbekistan-born Australian to the French composer whose eccentricities are legendary and music timeless. “Satie’s life was a fascinating, fervoursome affair,” says pianist Tamara-Anna Cislowska, “from the first strike of love and then lifelong estrangement with artist and muse Suzanne Valadon, to the unexpected celebrity and conflict of his last ten years. After he died, friends gaining access to his apartment, for the first time in almost three decades, found conditions both perplexing and romantically fastidious in their own way: two grand pianos one atop the other, one chair, one table, seven velvet suits and the love letters – many, many unsent love letters.”
The album reflects on idiosyncrasies and anecdotes from Satie’s life, with music that ranges from seductive orientalism to hypnotic melodies reminiscent of the ground-breaking, transcendent beauty of Satie’s own piano pieces: ‘imaginary building’ reflects on his sketches of imaginary buildings (which he even advertised in the newspaper for rent and purchase); ‘very shiny’, one of his characteristically opaque performance directions; ‘postcard to a critic’, after Satie’s explosive response to a negative review (leading to a spell in gaol). The buoyant rhythms and rhapsodic harmonic style that have brought Kats-Chernin a reputation as one of the best-loved composers of her generation provide the perfect lens to reflect on a musical great of the previous century.
"If Elena Kats-Chernin had married Erik Alfred Leslie Satie, their musical children would have sounded like the 26 little piano pieces on this beguiling album... Deceptively simple and unadorned, they trickle off the nimble fingers of Tamara-Anna Cislowska... This is the kind of music that could exist at various levels ... all the way to late-night cabaret acts in Spiegeltents, best accompanied by exotic libations... it is hard to argue with its sincerity, wit and charm." (The Australian, April 2017)