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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDH55176
Recording details: April 1989
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Arthur Johnson
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: October 1989
Total duration: 15 minutes 28 seconds

Parade
composer

Choral  [0'53]
Acrobates  [3'37]
Final  [2'25]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The dazzling French writer Jean Cocteau (1891–1963) left a charming thumb-nail sketch of Satie which is worth quoting in the context of the collaboration between the two men, together with Pablo Picasso and Léonide Massine, on the so-called ‘ballet réaliste’ Parade (1915–16) which Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes presented in Paris on 18 May 1917, and which not exactly modestly echoed the ripples of scandal caused by the same company’s Rite of Spring furore some years earlier. ‘For several years Erik Satie would come during the morning to No 10 rue d’Anjou and sit in my room’, wrote Cocteau; ‘he would keep on his overcoat (he could not have tolerated the slightest mark on it), his gloves, his hat, tilted right down over the eye-glass, and hold his umbrella in his hand. With his other hand he would cover his mouth, which curled when he talked or laughed. He used to come from Arcueil on foot. He lived there in a small room where, after his death, all the letters from his friends were found under a huge heap of dust. He had not opened one of them … (He would) tease Ravel, and out of modesty give to the fine pieces of music played by Ricardo Viñes comical titles calculated to alienate immediately a host of mediocre minds.’

It was not only mediocre minds that were alienated by the cock-snooking, surrealist world of Parade, peopled as it was on that May night in 1917 by a Chinese conjuror, cops and robbers, acrobats, circus folk of all descriptions, and three seriously down-to-earth and very ‘Cubist’ managers. The performance was drowned in the audience uproar, and the resulting journalistic battle resulted in a court case and a prison sentence for Satie which, typically, he managed never to serve. The fact that Parade saw the unique meeting of the greatest artistic minds offered by Paris at that time was conveniently overlooked.

Picasso’s cubist and colourful costumes, curtains, and scenery for Parade, with Massine’s choreography to match, were directly reflected in Satie’s ‘cubist’ score, which unfolds in a clockwork, mechanical and rather dry though exceedingly amusing way. Typewriters, revolvers, sirens, and clappers all find their place in the mêlée, the madness, and the melancholy of Parade. And, as the circus that departs overnight, it is all too soon gone, like the Midsummer Night’s Dream, an adaptation of which Cocteau was working on when he first met Satie in 1915.

from notes by Simon Wright © 1989

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