Sunday, 7 August 2016

Satie Synchronicity

Wikimedia - Portrait of Erik Satie by Suzanne Valadon



A case of synchronicity. I've adored Erik Satie's piano music since I first heard it decades ago. So when I saw there was a show on during the Edinburgh Fringe called Erik Satie's-Faction, I went to the press office to get a ticket, intending to review it. I saw the show on Friday, and I was working on the review this afternoon, and had Radio 3 on in the background, as I often do, when I realised I was listening to the very show I had seen live a couple of days ago! I'd had no idea it was going to be on the radio (and it was actually part of the Proms).  But though I recognized quite a lot of it, there were differences in the script (and more music). For example, in the radio programme, the part about Suzanne Valadon, the painter who Satie fell in love with, was not mentioned. (Their relationship was brief, as she did not return the intensity of his feelings, and had other lovers, which tormented Satie with jealousy.)

Wikimedia - Bouquet de Fleur par Suzanne Valadon
But I smiled particularly at one part, where Satie is talking about critics. And this part was definitely in the show. Also the fact that it was on the radio meant that I could make a note of his actual words which I was too covered with a kind of amused embarrassment to write down at the time (and besides, he'd taken my notebook!).

In the actual performance, I was sitting in the front row, which was on a level with the stage, scribbling away in my notebook. And when Satie (played by Alistair McGowan) started to talk about critics he suddenly turned to me and fixed me with a hard stare. He'd been talking about animals and then he said 'there are no critics among animals, this particular art-form is quite alien to animals, a human critic's brain however...' And this is where I got the hard stare...'is a store, a department store, you can find anything there, bed-linen, travel rugs, a wide range of furniture, French and foreign writing paper, gloves, umbrellas, hats, walking sticks....'. He then walked slowly over to where I was sitting and took the notebook very gently out of my hand and held it up for all to see. 'The constant gleam of pride in the critic's eye means he can't always see the pain he causes in his victims …'

This delighted the audience of course as all eyes turned to me. 'But I have never understood' he went on, 'why artists are so touchy about what critics say about them in their reviews. These artists, they should follow my good example...' and he hands back my notebook, walks back slowly, still looking at me 'I – am dazzled by the very presence of a critic, he shines so brightly that I blink for more than an hour after he has gone, I kiss the footprints of his birkenstocks...' (I was wearing sandals – the word he uses on the radio is 'slippers') 'I drink in his words from a long-stemmed champagne glass – well, it is only polite.'  


Alistair McGowan plays Satie


Oh I wish I'd been more quick-thinking and said – but I will write a good review, of course I will, I've always loved your music and I love you too and I would have stayed longer with you than Suzanne did!

Erik Satie's-Faction plays at The Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, 12.50, daily (except 9, 16 and 23) until 28 August 2016
Starring Alistair McGowan

My review is up on Cafe Babel

8 comments:

three sea horses said...

Oh this is brilliant M! It should be published!!
I read your review on the FB link you put up, the show sounds really good, inspiring.
I hope AG gets to read it - but he should read this one as well!
Txx

dritanje said...

Thanks 3 sea horses, I wish I had had the presence of mind and quick thinking to say what I wrote here, I did want to say I love your music - and you! And isn't the painting by Suzanne Valadon of him so good! I think I am falling in love with him...
M xx

Forest Dream Weaver said...

What an interesting experience....and great writing!
Rubyxx

Barbara Karnes said...

Brilliantly fun read inviting a smile that'll carry me thru the day on a flying carpet of synchronistic joy. Thanks much!

Anonymous said...

what a story :) I'm runnig to look his music up
did you get my long, long email about wild boars?
:)

dritanje said...

Yes dear Anon I did get your email it arrived about the same time as the family did so....time goes by I will respond at some point of course I will.
Listen particularly to Satie,s gnossiennes :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm so ignorant about such music... Thank you for your advice, I will.
I'm not complaining about you not answering, just letting you know that I'm thinking about you and enjoying The Rivertrain and the lovely, lovely pictures of sunrise (I too see it rarely) and sunset and the account of the rock cliffs trip. You made me ashamed: I was afraid to go camping in summer in Denmark...

dritanje said...

Glad you are enjoying the words and pics dear anon. I didn't say it, but it was cold, camping, though in France it was not. Going camping again later this month, and it might be cold again!