We were tasked with the visual interpretation of two songs in order to capture the feeling and atmosphere of the music.
Reinbert de Leeuw’s interpretation of Erik Satie’s works, especially of Gnossienne nr. 1, are the only proper versions in my opinion. His extremely slow playing style embodies the otherworldly nature of the music. Erik Satie was decidedly experimental and somewhat eccentric – his instructions on how to play his pieces included “with conviction and with a rigorous sadness” for the 6th Gnossienne, and he wrote them in ‘free time’: without time signatures or bar divisions.
A vision of aimlessly traversing cobblestone streets in the rain always accompanies my listening to the 1st Gnossienne. Strange and uncanny elements enter into the scenario with the lilting up and downward movement of de Leeuw’s playing, followed by resignation, and then by striving and forward motion with the stronger, more assertive notes. The experience of profound melancholy, self doubt, and maybe also madness, resignation and realization, and the ups and downs that come with these, are what I hear in this piece.