The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Vin­cent Plush

Unsent Love Let­ters: Med­i­ta­tions on Erik Satie Elena Kats-Ch­ernin/ Ta­mara-Anna Cis­lowska ABC Clas­sics If Elena Kats-Ch­ernin had mar­ried Erik Alfred Les­lie Satie, their mu­si­cal chil­dren would have sounded like the 26 lit­tle piano pieces on this be­guil­ing al­bum. In­spired by the love let­ters Satie wrote to his muse Suzanne Val­adon — they were dis­cov­ered in his apart­ment af­ter his death — these minia­tures spring from the imag­i­na­tion of a com­poser un­ri­valled in Aus­tralian mu­sic for her wit and whimsy.

De­cep­tively sim­ple and un­adorned, they trickle off the nim­ble fin­gers of Ta­mara-Anna Cis­lowska, al­most the “house pi­anist” for Kat­sCh­ernin, whose mu­sic she has cham­pi­oned in sev­eral ex­ist­ing record­ing projects. In fact, there are mo­ments that sound al­most like duets; short of over­dub­bing, per­haps the com­poser her­self fig­ures as a kind of phan­tom pi­anist?

There are hints also of other tech­ni­cal magic in the nether re­gions of the key­board. At times, in pieces such as Sara­bande, it is hard to know where Satie leaves off and Kats-Ch­ernin picks up. At other times, for ex­am­ple in Ab­syn­the Cock­tail, a shade more way­ward­ness in de­liv­ery might have been ap­pro­pri­ate. At this point, the lis­tener imag­ines the com­poser work­ing her way through Satie’s en­tire drinks cab­i­net.

Kats-Ch­ernin is a woman of the theatre and these pieces in­habit a kind of imag­i­nary theatre. This is the kind of mu­sic that could exist at var­i­ous lev­els: sim­ple pieces for young recital­ists and ex­am­i­na­tion books, all the way to late-night cabaret acts in Spiegel­tents, best ac­com­pa­nied by ex­otic li­ba­tions. For some, the mu­sic of Kat­sCh­ernin is an ac­quired taste: a lit­tle of it goes a long way. Here it is hard to ar­gue with its sin­cer­ity, wit and charm. And with­out any sign of Satie’s fa­mous col­lec­tion of um­brel­las.

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