Claire Chevallier plays the music of Erik Satie on a period Erard Piano
Chevallier has gained many plaudits for her recordings with Jos van Immerseel and Anima Eterna, including the BBC Music Magazine Award nominated recording of Ravel’s Piano Concerto for Left Hand.
A genuinely new approach to these popular works.
Claire Chevallier writes in the sleevenote:
Jean Cocteau said of Satie (whom he saw every morning for a long period of his life): ‘He inherited a grave eccentricity from his Scottish ancestry. . . . Egotistical, cruel, obsessive, he would listen to nothing that did not conform to his dogma and would fly into furious rages with anything that disturbed it. Egotistical, because he thought only of his music. Cruel, because he defended his music. Obsessive, because he polished his music. And his music was tender. And so he was, too, in his own way. . . . He cleaned himself with pumice stone. He never used water. At a time when music surged forth in floods, recognising Debussy’s genius but fearful of his despotism (they remained on friendly but quarrelsome terms right up to the end), he turned his back on the latter’s school and became, at the Schola Cantorum, the odd sort of Socrates we knew. ‘There he pumiced, defied, smoothed himself, and forged the little orifice through which his exquisite force needed only to flow from its source.’
When I chanced on this passage from Cocteau shortly after the recording, I felt this text summed up my impressions of those few days in front of the microphones when I had played Satie on my 1905 Érard. This superb piano regulated to cope with high volume and works that ‘surge forth in floods’ (such as Ravel’s Concerto for the left hand, ZZT060901) offered me the rich sonority of a cathedral on legs (especially for Les Sonneries de la Rose+Croix and the Ogives), but thereby showed me what Satie had resisted: it showed me in practice the paradox I required for his music. This paradox nourished each note of an inner universe equivalent to Satie’s egotistical, cruel, obsessive struggle to reach a goal of which he remains the sole master universe were opening up before me. In fact, all this music requires a total reduction of resources, a knifeedge playing style, a refusal of effect, and the most touching thing is that this leads us to Cocteau’s extraordinary conclusion: Satie’s music is tender. But it is a tenderness of an almost indecipherable purity . . .‘Precious’, as Satie would have said . . . Claire Chevallier - 10 May 2008
“…the peachy resonant tone of Chevallier's piano is the making of this revelatory disc. …this is Satie for those suspicious about his adoption as a "chill-out" composer. Here he sounds dangerous, subversive, crazed.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2009