Take a wonderful pianist, a gifted actor and a writer’s skill in weaving them together and you have a ‘theatrecital’: Meurig Bowen’s vision for the life and work of Parisian bohemian Erik Satie.
A gifted writer as well as composer, Satie’s works are colourfully entitled: Embryons desseches No 3 or Le piege de Meduse. He left diaries and letters and sometimes ‘impenetrably bizarre writings’ which along with recollections of friends and direct quotation were used by Bowen as an attempt to give a flavour of Satie’s ‘complex psychological profile.’ ‘We didn’t eat every day, but we never missed an aperitif’, actor David Bamber intoned to the spectacular vaulted ceiling of St John the Evangelist Church in Iffley Road, the home of SJE Arts.
Best known for the iconic Gymnopedies and Gnossiennes, the programme included many exquisite, less familiar piano compositions played with exuberance and passion by French born international pianist Anne Lovett. Je te veux, Vexations, Petite ouverture a danser – each a fragment of acute sensibility. A composer herself, she brought brilliance and clarity to Satie’s wit and wildness, and at times seemed to almost melt into the music with a rare sympathy.
There was so much for the packed audience of all ages to enjoy last night that it would be impossible to separate out the fascination of different strands of Satie’s output. What is for certain is that such was the delight of his music, constrained within a short 75 minute concert that more was craved – just like Satie’s company.