Trois Mélodies

Composer: Erik Satie (b. 1866 - d. 1925)
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Composer: Erik Satie (b. 1866 - d. 1925)

Performance date: 06/07/2019

Venue: St. Brendan’s Church

Composition Year: 1886

Duration: 00:09:22

Recording Engineer: Gar Duffy, RTÉ

Instrumentation: vn, pf

Instrumentation Category:Duo

Artists: Joseph Middleton - [piano]
Caroline Melzer - [soprano]

a composer Erik Satie had an irreplaceable influence on his
contemporaneity, most obviously through his influential friendships with
Debussy and Ravel who lead the compositional style of “impressionism”.
He was an early contributor to the concepts of performance art, prepared
piano, minimalism and ambient music, writing “furniture music” or
“static sound decoration”, recognizing the position where music rarely
raises from being the ambience of the noise of the city or the noise of
the endless information of a complicated world.  

The Trois Mélodies from
1886 was composed to poems by his friend, the poet J.P Contamine de
Latour. Where Latour’s poetry seems inspired by the sentiments of
Baudelaire among other symbolists, Satie’s subtle accompaniment creates a
strong contrast. Continuous rows of slow chords without bar lines build
upon sevenths and compound seconds thus under-exposing the tonality and
rhythm. This creates an evasive and more spoken voice leading, as well
as avoiding the tensions of the minor/major system, which leave a
stagnant tonality and a focus on the timbre of each chord, rather than
relating to the preceding and following chords. The music mirrors the
decadence of the words in an almost parodic manner and with the
paradoxical wit of a Shakespearean Fool, Satie seems to make an
irreverent and contradictory yet enlightening response to Latour’s texts.

Le Anges

Vêtus de blancs, dans l'azur clair,
Robed in white, in the blue sky,
Laissant déployer leurs longs voiles,
Their long veils extended,
Les anges planent dans l'éther,
The angels glide through the ether,
Lys flottants parmi les étoiles.
Lilies afloat amongst the stars.
Les luths frissonnent sous leurs doigts,
Lutes tremble under their fingers,
Luths à la divine harmonie.
Lutes of godly harmony.
Comme un encens montent leurs voix,
Like incense their voices rise,
Calmes, sous la voûte infinie.
Calm, beneath the infinite vault.
En bas, gronde le flot amer;
Below, the bitter seas roars;
La nuit partout étend ses voiles,
The night extends its veils too.
Les anges planent dans l'éther,
The angels glide through the ether,
Lys flottants parmi les étoiles.
Lilies afloat amongst the stars.

?2. Élégie 

J'ai vu décliner comme un songe,
I have seen my fortune fade, as if in a dream.
Cruel mensonge,
Cruel fate!
Tout mon bonheur.
All my happiness, and
Au lieu de la douce espérance,
Instead of sweet hope,
J'ai la souffrance
I am filled with anguish
Et la douleur.
and pain.
Autrefois ma folle jeunesse
In the folly of my bygone youth,
Chantait sans cesse
I sang constanstly
L'hymne d'amour.
the song of love.
Mais la chimère caressée
But the cherished chimera 
S'est effacée
En un seul jour.
In a single day.
J'ai dû souffrir mon long martyre,
I have to suffer my long martyrdom,
Sans le maudire,
Without cursing it, 
Sans soupirer.
without sighing.
Le seul remède sur la terre
The only cure on this earth, 
À ma misère
For my misery, 
Est de pleurer.
is to weep.



Elle est si belle, ma Sylvie,
She is so beautiful, my Sylvie,
Que les anges en sont jaloux.
That the angels are envious of her.
L'amour sur sa lèvre ravie
Love, from her delighted lips,
Laissa son baiser le plus doux.
Left the sweetest kiss.
Ses yeux sont de grandes étoiles,
Her eyes are great stars,
Sa bouche est faite de rubis,
Her mouth is made of rubies,
Son âme est un zénith sans voiles,
Her soul reaches heights in a cloudless sky,
Et son coeur est mon paradis.
And her heart is my paradise.
Ses cheveux sont noirs comme l'ombre,
Her hair is black as a shadow,
Sa voix plus douce que le miel,
Her voice is sweeter than honey,
Sa tristesse est une pénombre
Her sadness is an eclipse
Et son sourire un arc-en-ciel.
And her smile is a rainbow.