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Stravinsky: Works for Piano & Orchestra / Bavouzet

Stravinsky / Bavouzet / Tortelier
Release Date: 01/27/2015 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 5147   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Jean-Efflam Bavouzet
Conductor:  Yan Pascal Tortelier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Petrushka began life as a “concert piece” for piano and orchestra before morphing into the ballet that we all know and love, and that is the logic for including it in this collection of Stravinsky’s remaining three works for piano and orchestra, even though in its final form there is little left of the work’s concertante origins. It’s not unheard of for a major pianist to take the orchestral keyboard part. Tamás Vásáry did it on Charles Dutoit’s first recording of the work for Deutsche Grammophon, and it goes without saying the Bavouzet plays beautifully, if without there being any particular way to tell that there’s a true concert pianist at work.

More distinctive are the fine soloists of the São
Read more Paulo Symphony, flute and trumpet especially. Tortelier’s interpretation, though, is a bit on the droopy side, especially in the First Tableau. Things perk up as the ballet proceeds and the textures become more chamber-like, but there are too many excellent versions of the music for this one to be competitive or necessary. Moreover, listeners who are only casually interested in Stravinsky will likely not enjoy the other works on the disc as much as the ballet. So we are talking about a disc intended for diehard fans of Stravinsky, or Bavouzet, which is certainly fair enough as long as we’re clear about it.

Bavouzet plays the pieces with real solo parts very well. None offer much in the way of expressive depth. Stravinsky, who was not a great pianist, wrote them for his own concerts, but the Concerto and Capriccio, at least, are great fun when played with this kind of high spirited bravura. Movements, nice minutes of twelve-tone noodling, is what it is. This release appeared at roughly the same time as the Steven Osborne/Volkov disc on Hyperion, and aside from the stupefying fact that we now have two new competing discs containing very good performances of Stravinsky’s complete music for piano and orchestra (with different couplings), if forced to choose between them my personal preference leans toward Bavouzet, both for his bolder projection of the solo parts as well as the Brazilian orchestra’s snappier response to the orchestral writing, at slightly swifter tempos.

Chandos’ SACD sonics also offer a touch more clarity and impact than Hyperion’s good but more variable effort. Still, this isn’t the kind of repertoire that I see most collectors wanting to duplicate. If you already have, say, Paul Crossley’s Sony disc (with Esa-Pekka Salonen) of the complete works for piano and orchestra, there’s no pressing need to buy more. You will know how much this matters to you.

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

1.
Movements for Piano and Orchestra by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (Piano)
Conductor:  Yan Pascal Tortelier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1961; USA 
2.
Concerto for Piano and Winds by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (Piano)
Conductor:  Yan Pascal Tortelier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923-1924; France 
3.
Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (Piano)
Conductor:  Yan Pascal Tortelier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928-1929; France 
4.
Pétrouchka by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Yan Pascal Tortelier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Switzerland 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 Spectacular Stravinsky May 16, 2015 By Robert Abbott (louisville, KY) See All My Reviews "I am a die-hard fan of the Jean-Efflam Bavouzet/Yan Pascal Tortelier/ SACD/Chandos combination. Except for Petrouchka, the Concerto, Capriccio, and Movements were totally unfamiliar. The dynamics are outstanding. I will have to listen to them a few more times to fully appreciate the earlier Stravinsky. Whistleable tunes don't jump out at you. But Petrouchka alone is worth the whole album. Superb." Report Abuse
 Superb Stravinsky, with a light touch February 3, 2015 By Dean Frey See All My Reviews "After loving the dazzling recordings that Chandos released of Prokofiev and Haydn Piano Concertos with British orchestras, I wondered what the French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet would be up to next. I was so pleased to see the announcement by the same record company of this excellent program of Stravinsky works for piano and orchestra. This was clearly music to which Bavouzet was well suited, and in which he could provide his usual blend of élan, wit and solid musicianship. His light touch might temper the tendency which still exists to take the often stern Stravinsky too seriously. This time Bavouzet would be reunited with the conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier, with whom he recorded a Gramophone Award winning disc of concerted works by Ravel, Debussy and Massenet in 2011. And the two were off in May 2014 to Sao Paulo to record there with Tortelier’s former orchestra. Up until now I’ve known the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra (Osesp, as it’s known in Brazil) exclusively playing music of Brazilian composers, and especially Villa-Lobos. In this repertoire they’ve recorded quite a bit, for BIS and Naxos especially, and they pretty much rule. I’ve heard about their trips to Europe, and the strong notices they’ve received for concerts and recordings in a wide range of repertoire with Yan Pascal Tortelier and their new musical director Marin Alsop. Osesp, which is now the best South American orchestra, seems to be making its way into the top tier of orchestras internationally. The orchestral players, often equal partners in Stravinsky’s scores, excel in this music as much as the soloist. This is especially true of the wind players, and is most especially evident in the strongest work on the disc, the early 1920s Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments. In all four works Tortelier keeps everything in balance and in forward motion. He ensures that the broad range of varied textures, from the pianist’s immersion within the densest, loudest orchestral sounds of Petrouchka to the spare, brittle sounds of the serial Movements, always make musical sense. The Chandos engineers are, I’m sure sometimes breathlessly, swept along while providing really excellent, lifelike Super Audio CD sound." Report Abuse
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