From 1996 Gramophone Classical
Good CD Guide:
In 1918, the year after Diaghilev's Russian Ballet staged Satie's Parade
in Paris, Poulenc wrote that "to me, Satie's 'Parade' is to Paris
what Petrushka is to St. Petersburg." (André Gide, however,
commented on its poverty-stricken pretentiousness.) Satie was thenceforth
adopted as the spiritual father of 'Les Six', whose ideal was the marriage
of serious music with jazz, vaudeville, and the circus. Those who only
know Satie from his early Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes
- take heed: Parade shuffles along its apparently aimless, deadpan
and wicked way with interjections from typewriters, lottery wheels, pistols
and sirens. What does it all mean? Ronald Corp could be accused of retaining
a slightly stiff upper lip, but there may well be a seriousness of purpose
behind Satie's balletic miniatures. Certainly, there is little here of
the uproarious debunking of some of 'Les Six'. His orchestrations of the
Gnossiennes are idiomatic, and his performances of all six have
the requisite cool beauty. Hyperion's sound is spacious and natural.
Gramophone Feb 90, Christopher
Admirers of Satie will not need a recommendation from me to seek out this well-filled and attractively played issue of his orchestral music, some of which is in the form of transcriptions. Equally, those who regard his humor as childish and his musical ability as unformed will pass quickly over this review and search for more substantial material. The fact of the matter is that if you think of some of this writing clumsy and jejune, a work such as Parade (pistol shots, sirens and all) is merely going to give more hostages to your opinion; but if the composer interests and charms you - as he did Constant Lambert in his perceptive book Music ho! (London, 1934) - it is those very qualities that upset the opposite camp that will attract your approval. If this reviewer must declare his own position, it is that much of the music - though emphatically not all - seems to him like simple doodling and of minor interest only. Take that, or indeed leave it, according to your taste. The New London Orchestra under Ronald Corp could be a bit more uninhibited, I feel, in the many moments of humor, but, again, arguably there is an essential buttoned-up, rolled umbrella quality to Satie too, and so here, once more, an aesthetic judgment depends on your initial stand.
Suffice it to say that many will find this record indispensable, and Corp's orchestration of the second Gymnopédie is worthy to stand alongside Debussy's of the other two. These intensely nostalgic pieces are unique in language, which is more than one can say form many more pretentious ones by other composers. The recording is faithful but (probably rightly) in no way spectacular. The useful booklet notes by Simon Wright captures the spirit of the period.
Gramophone Feb 91 C.H. review of Parade on Ades:
For a reliable digital account of this witty ballet score Ronald Corp
and the New London Orchestra (Hyperion) may be preferred.
Fanfare May/June 90, William
This release contains the major orchestral work of Satie along with Ronal Corp's new orchestration of Gymnopédies No. 2 which uses the same orchestral ensemble and stylistic approach that Debussy established in his orchestrations of Gymnopédies No. 1 & 3; thus completing the set (I've often wondered why Debussy chose to orchestrate only two of the three numbers.) Corp has also orchestrated the Trois Gnossiennes. In both cases he has been successful. His effort dovetails neatly with Debussy's in the first instance, and his orchestration of the Trois Gnossiennes provides an insightful and rewarding realization of this oft-played piano composition.
The real attraction of this release lies in the stunningly played and recorded performances of Parade, Mercure, and Relâche. Though Parade has been reasonably well represented in the catalog over the years by such diverse conductors as Froment, Valek, Abravanel, Rosenthal, and Auriacombe, Relâche and Mercure can be considered, comparatively at any rate, as bona fida rarities. My personal touchstone recording of both Parade and Relâche is the old Louis Auriacombe reading with the Paris Conservatory Orchestra, once generally available on Angel (EMI, unavailable.) Auricombe's performance struck me as a fine effort - idiomatically correct, full of droll humor and not so droll humor, and captured in truly impressive sound. Ronald Corp's reading surpasses it handily. Corp realizes the quasi-ragtime rhythms with considerably more verve. Auriacombe sounds foursquare and uncomfortable by comparison. Auriacombe's Paris Conservatory Orchestra occasionally exhibits tentativeness in its attacks, and sometimes less than perfect intonation (especially in the two Gymnopédies also on that release.) More to the point, the Paris Conservatory Orchestra now and then sounds uncomfortable with the music - and perhaps even slightly embarrassed. Corp's New London Orchestra (I presume a pickup group, making Corp's achievements all the more remarkable) has no such problems. This is a vervy, joyous, virtuoso performance - refined, refreshingly vulgar, and full of whimsy. Most tellingly, Corp manages to convey the ineffable undercurrent of melancholy that occasionally peeks through this oddly humorous and occasionally outrageous score. In short, he fully realizes the kind of music that would come out of a collaboration among Erik Satie, Francis Picabia, Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, and Leonide Massine for Diaghilev and the Ballet Russes - and in fact did.
Les Adventures de Mercure was also a Cocteau/Satie collaboration, this time for Etienne de Beaumont's "Soirées de Paris" of 1924. Corp here repeats his success with Parade with all performance virtues in evidence and fully intact.
The brief, pithy, but nonetheless informative notes to this recording define the French word "relâche" as meaning "the theater has closed or a performance is canceled." They then tell us how "the first performance was indeed canceled; the audience arrived on the prescribed night to find the theater in darkness." - a typical Satie joke. Corp is fully attuned to this kind of humor. Throwing into the equation stunningly haunting performances of both the Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes, one gets an inkling of Satie's expressive variety and power; a musical effectiveness seldom realized even in the best performance of his piano music. This recording is not merely highly recommended, but essential.