Erik Satie – Mélodies, Hymne, Poèmes d’amour, Ludions


Songs by Erik Satie, sung by the Dutch soprano Marjanne Kweksilber with piano accompaniment by Reinbert de Leeuw. This recording started a long collaboration between the two, with Kweksilber singing in performances of many modern compositions.

The songs are partly from Satie’s most peculiar period. Among them is a series of five short poems, called Ludions, by Léon-Paul Fargue. Fargue was a Paris extravagant figure, just as weirdly outrageous as Satie himself. The two were friends when Satie created the composition. Ludion is a scientific toy: a small airtight container that is completely filled with water. When floating in water it can rise, sink and spin seemingly of its own accord, by applying pressure to the liquid inside.

The bundle of Fargue contains three more peculiar poems, but these are skipped in Satie’s work. The titles of the poems: Air du rat, Spleen, La grenouille américaine, Air du poète and Chanson du Chat. The premiere of the composition was in the house of the Count of Beaumont, that came with a newly installed pipe organ that was to be used for the performance.

However, upon arrival at the mansion, Fargue noted his name was not on the program. He blamed Beaumont and Satie for the omission, and a vicious row followed. Beaumont to a duel because of the accusation, and Fargue accepted if he were to choose the weapons. He chose spelling.

Satie demanded an apology from the writer, but got none. Soon all contact between the former friends ceased, and Fargue refused even to come to Satie’s deathbed. Both were not only extravagant men, but also very stubborn.

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