1897 in Music

My list of music reviews for music published in 1897.


1. Paul Dukas: L’apprenti sorcier (1897)

This is Dukas’ most famous piece in North America, and possibly most of the world, because of Fantasia. Because of Fantasia, it was one of the earliest pieces of art music I ever heard. So it’s really hard to think about it in any objective light. I have heard this so many times, it’s so much of what I think about when I think about either “classical” music or Fantasia. It’s certainly extremely iconic to me.


2. Erik Satie: Pièces froides (9/10)

6 somewhat related pieces, as far as I can tell.

  • Airs à faire fuir
    1. D’une manière très particulière: I like this one, combines a little more virtuosity than usual with the vibe you often get from his work of this period.
    2. Modestemente : A very different approach than the first, much more calm but I detect changes in tempo just like the first one.
    3. S’inviter : This feels like just slight change in melody from the second piece initially but then with a wide divergence 15 second or so in. Perhaps to show the different options you had when playing? Not sure but interesting conceptually if that’s what he was up to.
  • Danses de travers

    1. En y regardant à deux fois : Played faster than the others (mostly), this feels a little different given how much of the chords are used.
    2. Passer :  I guess the theme of the second set is a different approach, actually. These pieces have commonalities between them and the other set do. Took me a while to notice. The briefest of the six pieces, at least in the performance I’ve heard.
    3. Encore : A neat combination of the above two.


3. Frederick Delius: “La Calinda” from Koanga (8/10)

As far as I can figure, this is the only part of this opera that has remained in the repertoire. It’s easy to see why it’s stayed popular. At the time, it was likely one of the earlier “Latin” pieces to appear in English music, and the melody is agreeable. I don’t like excerpts, but as they go, I guess this is pretty decent.


4. Erik Satie: Caresse (8/10)

This feels like an early, practice-run for some of his dreamier pieces around a few years later. But that middle part really disrupts everything (intentionally I’m sure) so you don’t get lulled in like in the later pieces.


5. Erik Satie: Gnossienne No. 6 (7/10)

Much later than the rest of the series but more like #4 to my ears than the others. A little less unique, to my ears, as well.


6. Gustav Holst: “A Winter Idyll” (7/10)

This starts rather lively for the title. It’s decent late Romantic stuff. It’s fine. It doesn’t have me jumping out of my shoes or anything.


7. Erik Satie: Petite ouverture à danser (7/10)

As you might expect, this is a short one. Like so much of Satie’s dance-related pieces, it’s sort of hard to imagine dancing to it (which, I think, is the idea). Pretty but slight.

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