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Ravel, Debussy & Massenet / Bavouzet, Tortelier, BBC Symphony Orchestra

Bavouzet / Ravel / Debussy / Bbso / Tortelier
Release Date: 11/16/2010 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 5084  
Composer:  Claude DebussyJules MassenetMaurice Ravel
Performer:  Jean-Efflam Bavouzet
Conductor:  Yan Pascal Tortelier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews


This stunning and generous collection belongs right at the top of the heap in its respective repertoire. The Debussy is still a comparative rarity in concert if not on disc, a remarkable fact given that it's wholly gorgeous from first note to last. Jean-Efflam Bavouzet's excellence as a Debussy pianist already has been acknowledged by just about everyone who has heard him, and needs no further advertisement here. The performance is outstanding, sensitive to every nuance, but also very French in its clear-eyed sensibility and understanding that focused rhythm and supple tempos prevent the music from turning excessively sentimental or blandly pretty. And in Tortelier, Bavouzet has a conductor who
Read more seconds him every step of the way. A similar sensibility informs these swift, razor-sharp, and utterly thrilling accounts of the two Ravel concertos. That for the left hand seldom has sounded so exciting, or in its jazzy central march section, so sinister. Listen to the bite that both soloist and orchestra bring to that descending scale theme, and notice the way Bavouzet shapes his cadenza so as to preserve the illusion of multiple parts played by multiple hands--all without slowing down at the tough passages. It's really an amazing performance by any standard. Even the dark opening, often merely murky on other recordings, has shape and urgency, the buildup to the initial entry of the piano creating incredible tension.

The G major concerto probably has more lousy performances to its credit than any other major 20th century piano concerto (save perhaps Gershwin's). Most of the time the problems start right from the solo entry in the first movement after the initial orchestral tutti, and the reason is easy to describe. This movement is in sonata form, and it has two basic tempos: "allegramente" for the opening, and "meno vivo" for the transitional material and second subject. Now obviously, "meno vivo" isn't all that much slower, but it's often taken at close to adagio by pianists anxious to wring "expression" out of the music at all costs. This is all the more absurd when we note that in the recapitulation, "meno vivo" briefly gives way to andante for the ethereal harp cadenza and horn solo. So Ravel's intentions aren't mysterious.

The best performances, then, to make a long story short, keep the tempo going with relative steadiness however much rubato and inflection happens along the way. Bavouzet gets it absolutely right, following up with one of the most songfully flowing and elegantly shaped accounts of the Adagio on disc, and concluding with an absolutely scorching finale. The Massenet encores are both novel and delightful, bringing the playing time up to a hefty 77 minutes. The SACD sonics are terrific, featuring well-nigh perfect balances and flattering the enthusiastic playing of the BBC Symphony (the real one, not the usual Philharmonic). This release is a "must" if you care about any of this music, and a first choice if you're newly in the market.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Fantaisie for Piano and Orchestra by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (Piano)
Conductor:  Yan Pascal Tortelier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1889-1890; France 
2.
Valse folle by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1898; France 
3.
Toccata for Piano by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; France 
4.
Pièces (2) for Piano: no 2, Papillons blancs by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1907; France 
5.
Pièces (2) for Piano: no 1, Papillons noir by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1907; France 
6.
Impromptus (2) for Piano: no 2, Eau curante by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; France 
7.
Impromptus (2) for Piano: no 1, Eau dormante by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; France 
8.
Concerto for Piano in G major by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (Piano)
Conductor:  Yan Pascal Tortelier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929-1931; France 
9.
Concerto for Piano left hand in D major by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (Piano)
Conductor:  Yan Pascal Tortelier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929-1930; France 

Sound Samples

Fantaisie: I. Andante ma non troppo
Fantaisie: II. Lento e molto espressivo
Fantaisie: III. Allegro molto
Piano Concerto in G major: I. Allegramente
Piano Concerto in G major: II. Adagio assai
Piano Concerto in G major: III. Presto
Piano Concerto for the Left Hand
2 Impromptus: No. 1. Eau dormante
2 Impromptus: No. 2. Eau courante
Toccata
2 Pieces for Piano: No. 1. Papillons noirs
2 Pieces for Piano: No. 2. Papillons blancs
Valse folle

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