Classical Music Library Free Download of the Week

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Every two weeks, Alexander Street offers a free music download from our popular online music collection. This download is freely available, regardless of whether or not your library subscribes to the collection.

Embryons Desséchés, by Erik Satie

Erik Satie (1866–1925) is known as a visionary and eccentric French composer of the early modern era. His works parody the long-standing traditions of earlier composers. This suite of three pieces for piano, the instrument for which he composed most often, tells three short stories of sea creatures – holothurie (sea cucumber), and two types of crustaceans. In the first movement, the pianist gets to enjoy a charming commentary by the sea cucumber that Satie sprinkled throughout the unmetered score (“What a nice rock!” “Don’t make me laugh, moss, you’re tickling me." “I have no tobacco, fortunately I don’t smoke.”) The perpetual oscillating motion of this movement lends an image of the crawling and purring (!) sea cucumber. The movement is based on a popular song at the time, “My rock of Saint-Malo” – the same place Satie notes in the score that he watched a sea cucumber.
The second movement is more somber, lamenting the life of this type of crustacean that is burdened with immobile eyes. It quotes “a celebrated mazurka by Schubert”, which is another of Satie’s jokes – the “mazurka” is actually Chopin’s Funeral March from his second piano concerto. The third movement is livelier, mimicking a hunt by this “relentless” crustacean. It ends with a witty “obligatory cadenza (by the composer)”, which is actually a jab at the conclusion of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8.
This recording is performed by French pianist France Clidat (1932–2012).

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