|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 by John Cage in 1963, this radical yet enigmatic work is now recognized as a significant milestone in the musical canon of avant garde.
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.