The first recording of this wonderful piece by the 19th century French composer Erik Satie was my musical gift to all Creation on Valentines Day last year, also our anniversary (see Gnossienne No. 1 by Altzar on Piano, Flute: Valentine’s Day Gift – Feb 14, 2013). I received this gift in dreamtime upon our return home to Maui from Europe last year.
But I actually have a long history with this music. It all started on a Maui beach in January 2006. And it ended three years later in my moving from Arizona to Maui (see “Welcome Home Musical Gift,” Feb 11, 2013).
What makes this music so extraordinary is an irregular and ever-changing rhythm throughout the piece. Like the ocean waves washing up on shore.
Satie reportedly got the inspiration for it on the island of Crete in Greece. I received mine on the island of Maui while walking on a beach and listening to the sound of breaking waves. Yet its rhythm is like the Guajira dance in Cuba, now almost forgotten. One century ago, it emerged from the rural areas of this Caribbean island as a new genre upon the musical stage.
All three places are islands – Crete, Cuba, Maui. All are surrounded by beautiful oceans washing up on their shores.
So that’s what this Satie piece connotes to me – the sound of the ocean, the sound of the gentle surf washing up on a beach. And now I have also recorded Satie’s Gnossienne No. 1 as a slow Cuban Guajira dance.
So in this version, you will have a chance to experience it both in its original version on my Steinway, and on the Clavinova as a Cuban Guajira played on various orchestral instruments – cello, pan flutes, flutes, even a sax – accompanied by the full orchestra. Imagine it being performed barefoot on a beach.
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