Erik Satie was a singular character, perhaps most charitably described as wildly eccentric.

He left the absinthe-fuelled social whirl of Montmartre for a solitary existence in the Parisian suburbs, wasted his money on odd purchases (dozens of identical suits, for example), and lived a reclusive life in an apartment in which he kept two grand pianos – one stacked on top of the other. The top one he used for storage.

He felt undervalued and inadequately celebrated in his lifetime but he paved the way for the avant garde movement. And his music lives on – by turns serene and uplifting, jagged, unsettling, hypnotically repetitive or mournful – yet almost always beautiful.

Memoirs of a Pear-Shaped Life charts Satie’s extraordinary life story, from birth, through success, heartbreak, poverty and on to the bitter end. Devised by Meurig Bowen, it casts actor David Bamber as the great man looking back over his career to musical accompaniment from French pianist Anne Lovett (like Satie a composer and native of Normandy).

Performed in one 70 minute act it was a captivating, eye and ear-opening performance in a stunning setting. Bamber has a delightfully light naturalistic touch, deftly channelling the composer’s emotions, frustrations and moments of pride and pausing for Lovett’s heart-melting, synapse-tickling solo pieces, book ended by excerpts of two minimalist masterpieces, his best known pieces – the lilting Gymnopédies and the haunting Gnossiennes.

There were laughs – particularly at Satie’s fruity profanity and accounts of his eccentricity (did he really tuck into an omelette made from 30 eggs, or feast on 150 oysters in one sitting?), but the overwhelming experience was one of gorgeous melancholy – much like his music. Wonderful.