dimanche 12 janvier 2014

Satie Vexations 3 in Monaco: the 24 hours non stop performance !

here the complete performance in a time-lapse video 

Still part of the Vexations4Japan tour i organised, the Monaco performance was also the very first time that i did a "long" version. By long version i mean more than 20 hours in a row. Well .... to be honest i did it only twice, 24 hours in Monaco and 35 hours at the Palais de Tokyo. 

The idea to do a 24 hours version did not came from me. As you start to know me, you might have understood that i am pretty talkative, and in real life, i am even more. 
When i was talking to Mr Boéri, the owner of the visionary galery "Entrepot" in Monaco, about the Vexations project, and explained him what it was. 
With Mr Boéri we shared one point: to do avant-garde event in Monaco, and he was very interested in the fact that the piece "could" be 24 hours long. 
So with a funny face, he look at me and said: "yes, yes, very interesting, let's do this 24 hours version!" 

Luckily i did not start with the Monaco one, and i had the 2 previous other concerts to warm me up. 

I wanted to push the experience further than a concert, and since we were in a Galery with no windows, i wanted that the scores will be all around the public. Unfortunately the idea was not really possible (but i still keep it in my mind and hope to do it one day). 
And for the very first time, i insisted to display the public all around the piano, an idea that i will use many time after

But on the other hand, i had this interesting idea: 
Since many scores were needed (840 to be precise), i wanted to make like an "inspirational" circle 

Everytime i eneded the performance of one page, i let it on the floor 

On the other hand, I met one of my painting soulmate : Andrea Clanetti Santarossa

He was using some scores, and doing paintings with it ! 

3 Paintings were made, and the public was able to win it. All the money will could get went directly to help the japan refugees. 

Sometime Andrea could not stand it, and had to rest : 

A very important point : once again, all the concert was displayed on internet. With it we got a huge succes as there was more than 2000 connections per hour ! 

The promo was very nice, and you can find everywhere related to that here at this link : promo 

Now for the music : 

My preparation was one of the most intense one:
No food and no drink for 3 full days prior to the concert. If the first day was very ok, the 2 other days, and specially the last one, i was more like a zombi. No food is ok, when you pass 20 hours, your appetite is reducing a lot. But on the other hand .... no drink is hard , as your body will do all its best to get some water, and .... taking a shower can be difficult as you can find yourself drinking by accident!

Past 48 hours, you start not to know if you are day dreaming or not. I still remember how much i was weak before starting the Vexations.
I took a lot of time to go to the Galery, and .... i did well since there was a trafic jam ....

As everytime, Mr Boéri wanted the concert to happen in the best conditions possible.
After the Perpignan performance, i had a long list of wanted food and drink. And .... i was surprised to see that everything i wanted was there !!!
But it is not as good as you think, since you really eating too much that you should, and after ... you really have problems ! And you know .... no stop !

The very good point of those version, is that it allways starts well.
You know you have to play slowly, because you have SO MUCH time !
Also i did not do the same mistake as Prague, and i did not see strange movies before. And the galery was full of light.

Also for the very first time, i performed the famous repeat that few are doing. You might have heard about the theory that, thanks to the Salabert edition, we are not able to understand the meaning of the last repeat sign, because it is a little different that the normal sign Satie allways use.
Well...... to prepare this concert, i was very happy to have receive a Facsimile in color of the manuscript, and saw that .... the last sign is a normal one, but simpy the black & white copy ruined everything.

So for the ones that do not understand quite well, the Vexations that i performed has this scheme :
Variation 1
Variation 2 (who is, in fact the Variation 1 upside down)
Theme  (this was on this last repeat that the Salabert 1st edition is not clear at all ! and it is true that ... performing it makes the Vexations longer of 20% and .... muliplied by 840, it is quite important)

I still remember that, everytime someone came to see the concert, there was a kind of ringtone, and Mr Boéri took his time to explain the piece.
When i was performing, i was not very at ease with all this noise around, but unfortunately the Monaco public, is not the kind of public that will do silence meditation.

Time to time i was joking with Andrea, and also i was looking slowly by slowly how his painting were evolving.
Public was coming in a regular basis. There was public from all over the world, i received supporting message from USA and Japan, I was simply flying over the notes.
Also on those message, i remember that i received many various questions about the Vexations, the performance, and on me.

Mostly we can say that it was done in the famous "Musique d'ameublement" way, as i can read sometime over the internet. That means, a music that is done only to "color" the everyday life. Today we would say, music for elevator or Muzark (as i read in "Ocean of time" a book about Ambient Music).

But ...
That was ....
before 1 am !

First of all, i learnt a terrible truth : doing the Vexations in a normal way is really a mistake : i mean .... Don't do like i did for the first 7 Vexations !!! With the time you forget about the bad and remember only the good !!! Do not use a "normal" piano bench !!!!!! Never !!!!!!!
I know, it is cool, it looks great and pro, but ........ after 8 hours your back really ... Hurts !!!!!!!!! it hurts a lot !!!!!
This time i had no more pains with my hands and arms, but on the other hand ...... i had so many back pain .... my muscles were all tenses like rocks !

Passing this time .... everything changed. Public stopped to come, and only me, Andrea, Mr Boeri and his assistant stayed there ....

This time the "helish" moment arrived at night .... everybody was sleeping, and .... i was alone ......

Also i had no more message from internet as .... everybody was sleeping and so... not able to tell me ...

I tried to wake me up, using the spring water sprays, eating dry ginger , but that was hard.
It went along like that for 3 hours and ... at 4 am... pure despair !

And of course, slowly by slowly you enter into this "vexations" world, the despair of the music, each note sounding like a dagger into Satie's heart.

At 6 am, the other started to wake up. More joyfull, and could not belive that .... i was still holding on !

I still remember the frustration ........

They had fun upstairs, enjoying a wonderful breakfirst ! while i was there .... no i was not starving as i could get anything i wanted (i still remember the extreme kindness of Mr Boéri allways asking me if everything was ok ).
I could smell the coffee ..... the croissant ...... the laugh .....
and .......
i was still front of the piano .....

7 am : the audience came back, and also in the very same way i could heard more internet questions.

I had some massages for my back, i received some roses, and like everytime, more people came, they could enjoy nice food ( i ask some for me ). But it was very relaxed. Psychologicaly i was far away from this terrible moment of the night, the famous 'despair' moment !

But again, with the time running, it was once again very difficult to finish, and once again i really did not want to stop.

here a video with the last 10 Vexations

Again you experience this feeling ....
the one you don't want to have ...
like a farewell ...
You hug and hug and hug this very person who is so important to you
Your plane has to go
and ... you don't know when you will be able to see this person again
"very soon" you both say
you promise the world
but inside you ... you know the truth, that ... it will take time
much later, really later for sure
a lot of time ....

For the first time i started to really understand the music. And this is the keystone of this Monaco performance

Exatly like the wonderful Bill Viola video, if you have a quiet and meditating ambience, it works wonderfully, and ... for Vexations it is the same !
I still remember an internet folower that was complaining. This wonderful person folowed both the Perpignan & the Monaco, and was always asking for more silence, and .... i must confess that he was right !

No, no, no ! Musique d'ameublement was composed long after the Vexations, and on the opposite of what you can read, Vexations is not a joke at all. It might even be the most serious piece Satie ever composed.
So, if you really want to be into this piece, you have to do it in a meditating way. And even, i would recommand to put some long chair for the public. As i saw with the other Vexations, sleeping with it, is a fantastic journey.

There is also another think that i understood. Thanks to the addition of this 3rd theme repeat, i really feel that it was not a "long and never ending" piece, but on the other hand .... 840 pieces !
 Yes, you got my point,
This is why Vexations is in plurial form (in French : 1 Vexation, 2 Vexations etc etc),
 and my discovery is :
 in fact when you are really into this music,
 you understand that the real title should be "840 Vexations".

And with the lengh it is doing a "human journey" :

It starts with the wired, a meaningless song, turning around itself (Scriabine would describle this psychological status as "Affanato"or anguished ). The Variations are doing exactly the same, and are flipping one into another like concentric circles.
And exactly like "Love" , you will experience with the Vexations the same evolutions of feeling :
Non understanding / Frustration (another french word for vexation)
and Forgivness going to a farewell

Then ... the simple frustration goes to pure love and forgivness thanks to a kind of "way of the Cross" (needless to remind you that Satie at this time was really into some kind of Christian-Gnostic sects)

After it, we had champagne, fun and food.

I was not tired at all. Exausted for sure. There was a pretty long question & answers from the audience, and also the internet audience. I guess it lasted 30 minutes
I rally don't remember the questions... but i guess i mostly said the very same things as i wrote there.
And surely the very same question : "do you really don't stop to go to the bathroom?" Yes, of course !! otherwise it won't be a non-stop performance !

A last image with all the team :

from left to right : Andréa Clanetti , Daniel Boéri and me

You will laugh with this very last details :

When i came back, i did not "fall in the bed" right away. I guess i was too much "high" with all the vitamins & redbull i took !
On the other hand, i took a shower and ...... ho God ..... i still remember THIS pain !!!
My back was hurting SO badly !!!!!!!!
I felt that all my back muscles, under the effect of the hot water, were like knives !!!!

Next Vexations step : the one in Rennes !

Also before i forget, this is an article on the "New Yorker" about my Satie performances :)

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