Trois Gymnopédies: No. 1, Lent et douloureux

I don’t know much about the music of French composer Erik Satie (1866-1925). But there’s one work of his I am quite familiar with, The Gymnopédies or Trois Gymnopédies, a set of three piano pieces he completed in 1888. 

Many of you may know the Gymnopédies: No. 1, and if you don’t think so, listen; you most likely will remember having heard it in a film, a restaurant, or someplace. The piece is dreamy and atmospheric, wonderfully calming and evocative of beauty. I found it online while working on a post earlier this week.

The title of the work comes from the Greek gymnopaedia, a yearly celebration where naked youths would perform war dances to demonstrate athletic prowess. The image of that doesn’t really mesh with the music, I’d have to say…

I’ve chosen two videos today; one is a lovely performance by French pianist Anne Queffélec. The other is an arrangement for chamber orchestra, violin, bassoon, and oboe, featuring English classical and jazz soloist Nigel Kennedy playing with the English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Paul Barritt.

In the late 1980s, I saw Kennedy perform with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra; I believe it was early in his classical music career. His playing was outstanding, and he had such a stage presence, rather a bit like a rock star without going over the top. I remember him enthusiastically playing an encore with and making a friendly connection as he introduced one of the double bass players, Graeme Mudd, who is now with the Calgary Symphony Orchestra.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio of the piano version from the Anne Queffélec YouTube topic channel:  

And, the chamber orchestra arrangement from the Nigel Kennedy YouTube topic channel:

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