Written by eccentric French composer Erik Satie in 1893, the extraordinary score for Vexations is just three lines long, yet a complete performance (840 repetitions) may last for anything between 14 and 28 hours. First performed under the supervision of John Cage in 1963, this radical yet enigmatic work is now recognized as a significant milestone in avant-garde music. Some credit Vexations with occult numerical meaning, others as 'Satie's greatest prank' or a 'poor man's Ring of the Nibelung'. Curiously, despite the almost infinitely repetitive nature of the piece, the central 18 note motif is notoriously hard to remember. Indeed no single pianist has yet been able to negotiate a complete performance of all 840 repetitions.
This meditative 70 minute recording features 40 repetitions of the motif, performed by Alan Marks on piano. The recording was produced by Thomas Wilbrant. By performing 40 repetitions over 70 minutes, Marks provides a relatively concise introduction. Digitally recorded, the CD also features detailed liner notes by Stephen Whittington.
We just don't make eccentrics like we used to... Written in 1893 by Erik Satie, 'Vexations' consisted of just three lines; although performance of the score could last anywhere upto 28 hours. 28 hours?! "You're having a laugh!" we hear you cry, but oh no; it's gospel. Played in repetition, an average performance would clock in at 840 repetitions of the motif and was first fully realised by the mighty John Cage in 1963. Clocking in at a restrained 40 repetitions, this 70 minute recording by Alan Marks (1983) is an oddly moving and undeniably involving piece of piano music which never even threatens to bore.