erik satie

42 Vexations (1893)


CD digipack + 16 pages booklet


16 page booklet including Cage's Place In the Reception of Satie by Matthew Shlomowitz.

Musique d'Ameublement
Literally, "furniture music," the phrase coined by Satie in 1917, where he identifies sound
as drapes, tiling, wallpaper - items belonging to the environment - and changing it simply by being in it, by actually becoming elements of the space. The idea being that, since you don't notice the sound right away, it becomes, in a sense, part of the furniture. This recording, the second installment in that series (after Marcel Duchamp), also involves a peculiar physical device since it calls for 840 repetitions of a single motif. Satie jotted down the idea in 1893. A concept - surely; a joke - obviously; something feasible - yes, for it has been done in 1963, on John Cage's impetus. John Cale was one of the musicians involved: "Between 9 and 10 September 1963 I was one of a relay team of pianists, under the direction of John Cage, who played Vexations by Eric Satie at Pocket Theatre, 100 Third Avenue near 13th Street, in 18 hours and 40 minutes. The 180 notes of this 80-second work were played 840 times. The whole thing was John Cage's idea. The admission was $5, but members of the audience got a refund of five cents per twenty minutes, and those who stayed to the bitter end got a 20 cent bonus." soSo, in Vexations, Satie will be evocated through Cage. Had Satie envisioned playing the piece?Who knows. Neither do we know if Duchamp's Erratum musical was meant to be executed. What can be said, however, is that when played in its entirety, Vexations inevitably becomes a performance for both players and listeners. An experience in repetition - repetition without the slightest variation, except for the unavoidable tempo shifts that occur over such a lengthy performance, alterations in how the piano keys are hit, in other words everything that falls within the realm of the mechanically involuntary. What would you say about a ritornello that would last between 18 and 24 hours ?

Erik Satie / Stephane Ginsburgh



Stephane Ginsburgh
A musician based in Brussels, he has been praised for his daring and mature piano playing. He appears regularly in recitals and chamber music in Europe, the Middle East, Russia and the USA. He performs Contemporary music as well as the Classical and Romantic repertoires, that he often associates in his programs. After studying at the Conservatory, he worked with Claude Helffer in Paris and Jerome Lowenthal in New York. He dedicates much of his energy to new music and collaborates with many young composers while keeping very close ties with the Classical repertoire. He premiered many new pieces and has been awarded the Pelemans Prize in 1999 by the Belgian composers' union for his implication in performing Belgian contemporary music. His implication in concert organisation in Brussels bears a strong political meaning as he insists on the necessity for artists to engage themselves into collective action.


01 42 vexations