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Discussion: Crystal Dream - Pascal Rogé

Posts: 2

Post by zeus December 15, 2009 (1 of 2)
This was on my wish list for ages and I finally decided to go for it, despite the less than inspired cover. It's a collection of piano works of Satie (Gymnopedies, Gnossiennes etc) interspersed with those of Takashi Yoshimatsu, the latter known only to me by the inclusion of one of his orchestral pieces on Japanese Orchestral Favourites - Tokyo Metropolitan/Numajiri. The playing of the Satie is excellent (better than Thibaudet's somewhat soporific traversal) and with great piano sound but it's the Yoshimatsu selections that really makes this disc. Seemingly very simple works but lyrical and evocative ... and a great counterpoint to the Satie. On the strength of this I've ordered another SA-CD of Yoshimatsu (Izumi Tateno plays Takashi Yoshimatsu) to see if the magic is sustained.

I mention this only because this disc is likely to be overlooked. Well worth a listen.

Post by canonical December 17, 2009 (2 of 2)
zeus said:

The playing of the Satie is excellent (better than Thibaudet's somewhat soporific traversal) and with great piano sound but it's the Yoshimatsu selections that really makes this disc. Seemingly very simple works but lyrical and evocative ... and a great counterpoint to the Satie.

I purchased this some months ago. Contrary to the happy experience zeus has had, my own encounter was a rather unhappy one. I was going to write a review a few months ago, and then decided to wait ... not because my views are changing on it, but because I realised how subjective musical taste is, and I thought it inappropriate to leave negative feedback as the first entry (and indeed possibly the only review entry), with no other views to mollify my own. The happy experience zeus has had with this confirms my view that I was right to delay, and I think I will continue to delay listing a formal review for it, until others have done so.

In any event:

In my view, the charm and secret of Satie is sheer simplicity: minimalism. By contrast, I think Rogé's performance sometimes tries too hard ... e.g. track 3 ... far too much pedalling - he tries too hard to create 'interest' via dynamic contrast, or by contrived accentuation ... all of which rather misses the point of Satie, I think. I have several other CDs with him playing and generally like his performances ... but I don't like his Satie.

But my real gripe with this disc is not about Rogé, not about his performance, not about the piano sound (which to my ears is just a little too brittle), but rather about the way the Satie and Yoshimatsu works have been interspersed on the disc.

Rather than just organising tracks 1- 10 as Satie, and then devoting the rest of the disc to Yoshimatsu ... instead, the Satie and Yoshimatsu tracks are alternated .... Satie for 3 minutes, then Yoshimatsu for 2 minutes, then Satie for 3 minutes ... effectively randomised ... . The net result is that it all sounds much the same. If people want to randomise their music, they have a random button. It suggests, on the part of the producer, an intent that the composer does not matter --- that it is all just dream music ... just like one of those awful compilation Romance CDs, or Lullaby CDs, or lift music etc. In the process, I think it devalues both composers and turns it all into mushy background music. And it is that production decision that really made my skin crawl when I listened to this disc. I found it unbearable on the first go; I tried listening to it once again, had the same reaction ... and have not listened to it since.

Closed