Serious Immobilities

Arthur Jarvinen

About this work:
Serious Immobilities (1997) Ennui In the Martini Lounge The complete version of Serious Immobilities, for piano solo, consists of 840 variations on Erik Satie's Vexations and takes twenty-four hours to play. For practical reasons, and because the music easily lends itself to such treatment, I have published shorter alternative versions of the piece. Serious Immobilities, Petit is a recital-length version (ca. 78 min.). It was recently recorded by Bryan Pezzone on a beautiful Fazioli 9' concert grand, in Zipper Hall at the Colburn School of the Performing Arts in Los Angeles. The recording was funded by a grant from the Los Angeles chapter of the American Composers Forum and will soon be released by Los Angeles River Records. Ennui In the Martini Lounge is the title I have recently appended to one variation from Serious Immobilities which occurs in all of the various versions. Deliberately evocative of cocktail lounge jazz, it is one of the few "stylistic variations" in the piece. Astute listeners will notice that Satie's original chords are there, but with notes added so as to give them a jazzy flavor, and his "theme of the bass" still occupies the left hand, but dressed up. Of course, all the rhythms have been changed, and extra ornamental flourishes added. But I must confess I was actually a bit surprised at how little it took to turn Vexations into a cheesy lounge piece. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that Satie was himself a cabaret musician; bar music was always a part of his oeuvre. In any case, I like to think he would find this particular take on Vexations amusing.
Version: Petit
Year composed: 1997
Duration: 01:15:40
Ensemble type: Keyboard:Piano
Instrumentation: 1 Piano
Instrumentation notes: The complete version (24 hours) includes spoken and sung texts. The Petit version (ca. 75 min.) is piano only.

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