I had considered buying these 'complete' piano works recordings in another edition for some time and over that period, I saw the price climb on Amazon. I bided my time and eventually this new release appeared on Amazon which is available from one supplier at around a third of the price of the original edition.
Frankly, I'm glad I waited for if I had laid out around £35 still being asked I would have been extremely disappointed. As reviewers elsewhere have noted, Cristina Ariagno is a perfectly skilled pianist, but the feeling I have hearing her interpretations of the pieces I already know, is that others simply do it better. Satie's compositions are strange and I can at least understand why some of his teachers thought that he had no compositional skills whatsoever. It takes a rare interpreter to bring out the subtlety of conception, the playfulness, the enigma and sometimes the absolute menace of Satie's pieces and the feeling is that for much, but admittedly not all of the time, Ms Ariagno simply isn't up to it. Others have mentioned Ariagno's use of dynamics which often imparts an inappropriately alien sense of heaviness to pieces that should be light, often playful and altogether more subtle.
Others have mentioned faults in the mechanics of the recording. I'm not sure I would agree, but at times pieces do seem to have a bass heavy aspect to them which I find tiring. I do wonder though whether Ms Ariagno's fairly heavy handed approach to playing might have called for more thought in microphone placement or even microphone choice.
I do feel slightly more favourably disposed to these recordings that one reviewer who said listening was 'a rather long haul of tediously shapeless monotony with an irritatingly faulty recording'. That said, despite some flashes of brilliance, I wouldn't greatly recommend this album even at the rather lower price that is currently being asked.
Quite simply put, others do Satie better and listening to better performances will make it easier understanding what Satie is about.