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Work

Erik Satie

Erik Satie Composer

In Riding Habit (En habit de cheval), 4 pieces for piano duet

Performances: 4
Tracks: 10
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Musicology:
  • In Riding Habit (En habit de cheval), 4 pieces for piano duet
    Year: 1911
    Genre: Other Keyboard
    Pr. Instrument: Piano Duo
    • 1.Choral
    • 2.Fugue litanique (Litanical Fugue)
    • 3.Autre Chorale
    • 4.Fugue de papier (Paper Fugue)
En habit de cheval consists of four pieces for piano duet, two fugues and two chorales: "Choral," "Fugue litanique," "Autre choral," and "Fugue de papier." These pieces are contemporaneous with a number of pieces written in the years following Satie's studies with D'Indy and Albert Roussel at the Scuola Cantorum. Satie's return to school in 1905-in order to gain a firm grounding in theory and counterpoint-resulted in a number of contrapuntal works in traditional forms, including the Apercus disagreables, another collection of fugues and chorales for piano duet. En habit de cheval was completed during the summer of 1911. Satie gave the pieces to his former counterpoint teacher Albert Roussel for his consideration, and according to Satie, he approved of them, particularly the fugues. The two chorales in this work are actually quite small; it is the fugues which contain most of the interesting material. Harmonically, they are adventurous, as they mix modal and tonal harmonies. More importantly, as musicologist Eric Gilmor has pointed out, Satie uses traditional form and harmony, but turns it "on its head" by inverting "the traditional tonic-dominant axis" in the fugal subject and answer; in the work's second fugue, the fugal subject begins on the subdominant, instead of the tonic, and is answered by the tonic. Gilmor characterizes this work as not one of Satie's "more endearing creations." What is important about En habit de cheval is Satie's orchestration of it later in 1911-12. The two pianos are replaced by two flutes, oboe, English horn, two clarinets, two bassoons, sarrusophone, two horns, two trumpets, three trombones, tuba, contrabass tuba, and strings. The opening choral uses the largest forces, while in the final two pieces the scoring is reduced. En habit is an example of Satie as a neophyte "phonometrographer-on who measured the loudness of sounds by subjective comparison." This self-imposed title was intended as a joke of sorts, but was perhaps also, as Robert Orledge has remarked, a "smoke-screen in the uncertain period" between 1911 and 1912. Satie's careful "phonometric" work balancing the instruments in En habit marked the beginning of a new direction for Satie, towards his "fantaisiste" period, as Orledge has noted, and away from the rigid formalism of the Scuola Cantorum.



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