Reviews

MANCHESTER Bridgewater Hall

MANCHESTER Bridgewater Hall

A new mirror on Ravel, left hand virtuosity and subtle Shostakovich

THE ARTS DESK January 16, 2017 by Robert Beale
Bavouzet was thoroughly equal to its demands, the late-occurring cadenza in particular being both brilliantly and poetically played"
EDINBURGH  Queen's Hall

EDINBURGH Queen's Hall

Pure delight: Jean-Efflam Bavouzet in recital in Edinburgh *****

BACHTRACK Nov 24, 2016 by Julie Jozwiak
“La vallée des cloches” transported the audience elsewhere, to another world – maybe life after death, as Bavouzet suggested in his speech. This specific moment was literally breath-taking, a quasi-mystical meditation beyond the known."

LONDON Royal Festival Hall

François-Xavier Roth conducts Les Siècles at Royal Festival Hall,Jean-Efflam Bavouzet plays Ravel’s Left-hand Piano Concerto

CLASSICAL SOURCE Nov 2016 by Colin Anderson
"He played superbly and, following the mists of the beginning, with every orchestral strand opened out, and with an appealingly croaky contrabassoon solo, Bavouzet was in commanding form."

LONDON Royal Festival Hall

Captivating Debussy Ravel concert from Roth, Bavouzet and Les Siècles

SEEN and HEARD International Nov 7 2016 by Geoff Diggines
" Bavouzet initiated a savage survey of the piano’s nether regions setting out the principal themes with force and drama. Bavouzet made the single hand sound like two hands, as Ravel intended. In fact, although it will offend many, I found Bavouzet even more compelling than Wittgenstein, with no wrong notes!"
SINGAPORE International Piano Festival

SINGAPORE International Piano Festival

Vivid rendition of Debussy and Ravel

THE STRAITS TIMES June 25 2016
by Mervin Beng
The second half, dedicated to works of French masters Ravel and Debussy, was a complete triumph."
MAINZ

MAINZ

Immer gut für Überraschungen

ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG May 18 2016
by Axel Zibulski
Kantig, klar, auch in turbulenten Zusammenhängen dominant arbeitete Bavouzet die 24 Variationen aus, die Rachmaninow über jenes Thema komponierte, das der Geigen-Hexenmeister Paganini seinerseits der dämonischen Solo-Caprice Nr. 24 zugrunde gelegt hatte."
BUDAPEST Palace of the Arts

BUDAPEST Palace of the Arts

When to applaud?

REVIZOR March 28 2016, by Csabai Màtè
A második, Adagio assai tétel harminchárom ütemnyi zongoraszólóval indít, melyet Bavouzet nagy áhítattal játszott, szó bennszakadt, hang fennakadt, lehellet megszegett."
CLEVELAND

CLEVELAND

Cleveland Orchestra offers respite from winter in colorful, warm French program

THE PLAIN DEALER Febr 5, 2016 by Zachary Lewis
The pinnacle was the Adagio. Out of its touching solo theme, Bavouzet and orchestra crafted a lavish and ultimately hugely impassioned episode, one that developed naturally and boasted limpid contributions from soloists all over the ensemble."
MANCHESTER Bridgewater Hall

MANCHESTER Bridgewater Hall

Hindemith, Ravel and Mahler from the BBC Philharmonic

BACHTRACK January 31 2016
by Rohan Shotton
The evening’s highlight was Jean-Efflam Bavouzet’s dashing account of the bimanual Ravel Piano Concerto, which combined technical facility with enormous musical sensibility to create a memorable performance."
LONDON Wigmore Hall

LONDON Wigmore Hall

"Transcriptions for two pianists"with François Frédéric Guy

SEEN and HEARD, by Colin Clarke - June 15, 2015
Bartók – Two Pictures, Op. 10 (arr. Kocsis?)
Debussy – Jeux (arr. Bavouzet)
Stravinsky – Le sacre du printemps (arr. two pianos by the composer)

This was a fascinating concert. Bavouzet and Guy played two of the three pieces in a recent BBC Radio 3 Wigmore lunchtime recital; here they added the Bartók and, effectively, played their new CD (Chandos CHAN10863).
Interestingly, the players used Yamaha grands – Bavouzet’s Debussy series on Chandos, the nearest of his discs to hand for me as I write this, was recorded on a Steinway. The Chandos recording of this repertoire also uses a Yamaha – for the extra brightness and clarity, I wonder?
Whatever the case, the programming was inspired. The programme note for the Bartók was, I think, the Wigmore’s stock note for that piece. It talks about the impact of Debussy on the Pictures, of the mix of France with Hungarian verbunkos, but nothing about whether what we heard was an arrangement or not. The Chandos recording states that there it is the Zoltán Kocsis transcription that was used, so I suspect that was what was played on this occasion.
For the first half, Bavouzet sat to the left, as Primo, and Guy to the right. It was a delight to hear two such intelligent pianists, so clearly on the same wavelength, and judging the hall acoustics to perfection (in contrast to Paul Lewis in the last three Beethoven sonatas a couple of nights previously, who showed a tendency to over-compensate). In the piano version, fortes became extra powerful, shorn of any orchestral ‘cushion’; yet sometimes Bartók’s writing showed distinct Debussian influences, a sort of dark, Pelléas-like wash of sound. No missing the Bartókian earthiness of the second piece, though, its rhythms excitingly delivered; yet there was surprising wit in Guy’s interjections, also.
So to Debussy himself, for Bavouzet’s transcription of Jeux. In an interview for the American magazine Fanfare, Bavouzet had told me with much enthusiasm about this transcription, so it was an extra treat actually to hear it. It really is remarkable, an impression perhaps enhanced by the excellence of the performance. Control was all, leading to a perfect evocation of the famously erotic threesome tale built around a tennis game. Any of the music’s surface skittishness was subsumed into a gorgeous sea of Debussian harmonic and emotional ambiguity. Technically, there were superbly even scales from both pianists and pinpoint ensemble. The writing is identifiably virtuoso, although both pianists were more than equipped. But the emotional journey was what mattered, and the surfacing of ecstasy at one point was remarkable.
The two-piano version of Stravinsky’s Rite found Guy on Primo. The ear was often drawn, it has to be said, to the level of detail in Bavouzet’s part, but what was perhaps most impressive was that even at the higher dynamic levels one could identify Stravinsky’s layering techniques. A sense of dialogue, so vital to this piece, was everywhere present between the two pianists. If the famous accents of ‘Augurs of Spring’ were not as bone-crushing as one might have liked or expected, it turned out to be a structural decision: the lead-in to the next section, ‘Jeu du rapt’ (‘Ritual of the abduction’) was all the more visceral.
The opening to the second part brought some luminous chording. Here, the music’s power lay in its hypnotic qualities. Even the famous ‘Danse sacrale’ was more evidently balletic, more born of the dance, than one is used to. The repeated rhythms held huge power within them, a power waiting to explode into the high interjections.
It was a remarkable end to a remarkable concert. There were encores, as one might expect from a short evening, and it was Ravel who stepped up to the plate: two-piano versions of movements from Rapsodie espagnole. And they don’t turn up on the disc.
This was a superb evening.

Colin Clarke
LONDON Wigmore Hall

LONDON Wigmore Hall



THE GUARDIAN ***** by Fiona Maddocks
May 26, 2015
Daniel Barenboim; Jean-Efflam Bavouzet; La bohème – review

..Even Barenboim would acknowledge that there are other fine pianists around. Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, who escapes the very celebrity on which Barenboim thrives, gave a tightly organised lunchtime recital at Wigmore Hall, embracing Beethoven’s Sonata in F sharp Op 78, Boulez’s Piano Sonata No 1, movements from Maurice Ohana’s Douze Etudes d’interprétation and three Debussy Etudes. Each of the works was linked, by inspiration or influence. Bavouzet’s playing has precision, finesse and fiery elegance, as expressive in the fluidity of Debussy as in the percussive vigour of the Boulez, written when the composer, 90 this year, was 21. An award-winning Debussy player, Bavouzet concluded with a dazzling account of L’isle joyeuse, leaping from the piano stool with a joyful twirl on the final note. I urge you to listen on iPlayer.
EDINBURGH  Usher Hall

EDINBURGH Usher Hall

Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Neeme JÄRVI conducting


SEEN AND HEARD February 22, 2015
by Simon Thompson
"..There was sparkle aplenty in Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto, too, but this time generated most obviously by some fairly stunning pianism from Jean-Efflam Bavouzet. This often understated, always musical, pianist here turned into a dynamo, fizzing up and down the keyboard with the energy of a nuclear reaction. It was a cracking performance which, for energy and excitement, rivalled even Danil Trifonov’s EIF opener back in 2013, and that’s saying something"
GLASGOW Royal Concert Hall

GLASGOW Royal Concert Hall

Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Neeme JÄRVI conducting


HERALD SCOTLAND February 22 2015
by Michael Tumelty
5 STARS
"...The programme was tailor-made Jarvi material... and welded to the phenomenal French pianist, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet in a blisteringly-precise account of Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto, in which Bavouzet, who, en passant, will make a brief appearance in this Saturday's music column, created a wonderfully-effective mix of Prokofiev's gleaming melodic genius, richly-harmonic colouring, and diamond-hard percussive pianism. (The encore was by Gabriel Pierne.)"
CHICAGO Orchestra Hall

CHICAGO Orchestra Hall

London Philharmonic Orchestra
Vladimir Jurowski conducting


CHICAGO TRIBUNE October 19, 2014
by John von Rhein
It was good to have Bavouzet back at Orchestra Hall after an absence of three years. His playing represents much of what one associates with the French piano school: clear and precise articulation of notes, poised and elegant lines, sonorities that are hard and bright rather than deep.
You can hear those qualities on his recent Chandos disc of Haydn piano concertos, and they served him well in his cleanly etched account of the Rachmaninov on Saturday. His seemingly infallible fingers took the bravura pages nonchalantly, while his nimble dialoguing with the orchestra's solo woodwinds sparkled. Above all, Bavouzet and Jurowski, a most meticulous accompanist, traced a clear and steady lyrical sweep from beginning to end. It earned both artists, along with the orchestra, an appreciative reception.
NEW YORK Carnegie Hall

NEW YORK Carnegie Hall

London Philharmonic Orchestra
Vladimir Jurowski conducting


THE NEW YORK TIMES
By Anthony Tommasini October 17, 2014
The superb French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet was soloist in Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Those expecting a French artist to exemplify stereotypical French sensibilities, like refinement, might have been surprised by Mr. Bavouzet’s crisp, incisive playing. This was a bracing account of a familiar piece. There was no dawdling in ruminative variations, and just enough use of expressive rubato in episodes of soaring lyricism.
After receiving a big ovation, Mr. Bavouzet played a solo encore: Debussy’s Prelude “Feux d’artifice” (“Fireworks”). This performance conveyed all the wildness of this swirling, dizzying music. The leap from this work to the Ligeti études seemed not that far.

SANTA BARBARA  Granada Theater

SANTA BARBARA Granada Theater

London Philharmonic Orchestra
Vladimir Jurowski conducting


Santa Barbara Independent October 15 2014
by Joseph MillerGrammy Award–winning French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, featured soloist for the Prokofiev, gave a powerfully assured performance of this demanding keyboard part, sensitively dialoguing with the orchestra and deftly inhabiting Prokofiev’s fiendish surprises and cutting wit. After a stormy ending to the first movement, the Andantino begins placidly with the promise of reprieve but minutes later explodes with the soloist racing up and down the keyboard, whipping the symphony into a fever and settling into hand-crossing gyrations. Bavouzet was wonderful, and I’m certain a few patrons previously lukewarm about Prokofiev were converted.
LONDON Royal Festival Hall

LONDON Royal Festival Hall

London Philharmonic Orchestra, V. Jurowski conducting

THE GUARDIAN , Sept 25 2014 by George Hall
"Jean-Efflam Bavouzet’s flawless account of Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto was a highlight of the London Philharmonic’s season-opening concert.
This proved to be an extraordinarily accomplished performance. Often, the sheer brilliance of Prokofiev’s virtuosic piano writing is deemed challenge enough for any mere 10-fingered exponent, without having to worry about niceties of interpretation. For Bavouzet, however, the notes were merely the beginning. Finely nuanced in touch and tone, his performance demonstrated the delicacy as well as the mechanised energy of the young Russian composer’s dazzling talent, while his two encores, by Debussy and Massenet, offered further evidence of his subtle colouristic range and flawless dexterity."

CLASSICALSOURCE, Sept 24 2014 by Peter Reed
For a moment you think that Prokofiev is evoking a sublime Russian wonderland at the start of his Third Piano Concerto, before the gloves come off in some of his most dazzling music. Jean-Efflam Bavouzet was on top form – impulsive, maverick, at times insanely virtuosic, the ideal pianist for a Piano Concerto that flies by the seat of its pants. Listening to Bavouzet diving into and powering out of the orchestra was a bit like watching a loop-tape of Tom Daley, of being briefly suspended between elements. Behind the bravura was a steely control that gave a special weight to the music’s high romance. Perhaps Bavouzet overdid the lounge-lizard jazz improvisation style in the first variation of the Andantino, but it was affectionate, witty and, above all, fresh, and his surges of power in the first movement’s reprise and in the finale’s coda was simply astounding – you could feel the energy feeding on itself. The finale’s glissandos were virtuosic, and despite some dizzy speeds there was little smudging of detail. Jurowski drew a characteristic sheen from the LPO players, a surface reflective and pliant enough to cope with Bavouzet’s incandescent high-wire act, in which there wasn’t a moment when you couldn’t hear the work’s glamorous personality coursing through his playing. He calmed himself down, a bit, with his first encore, Debussy’s ‘La fille aux cheveux de lin’ (Préludes, Book I), then rebooted himself in his second, Massenet’s very French, very flashy Toccata."


EVENING STANDARD, Sept 25 by Barry Millington
LPO was joined by Jean-Efflam Bavouzet for Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No 3 in C major. If Bavouzet seemed inclined to emulate the composer, whose own reading of the concerto was characterised as steely-fingered by a contemporary critic, then perhaps that is forgivable in a work that makes such a virtue of metallic brilliance. Certainly the acerbic edge to the jauntiness was well brought out and there was no doubting the dazzling virtuosity of Bavouzet’s fingerwork."

BACHTRACK, September 25 by Jack Johnson
Achieving a convincing interpretation of the marriage of the more sardonic elements of Prokofiev’s writing and the tangible influence of impressionism, whilst simultaneously mastering the technical challenges, is a difficult task and Bazouvet and Jurowski did a commendable job of shaping a performance of great musicality. Bazouvet played two encores, including a particularly touching rendition of Debussy’s La fille aux cheveux de lin, which smartly accentuated the impressionistic elements in the Prokofiev concerto."
LONDON Royal Festival Hall

LONDON Royal Festival Hall

London Philharmonic Orchestra
Vladimir Jurowski conducting


BACHTRACK **** 25 September 2014
by Jack Johnsonexhilarating performance of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto no. 3 by Jean-Efflam Bavouzet. What was most surprising about the performance was the appearance of effortlessness on Bavouzet’s part. This is a notoriously difficult piano score with many rhythmic challenges, particularly involving the interplay with the orchestra, yet it is also one of Prokofiev’s most impressionistic pieces. Achieving a convincing interpretation of the marriage of the more sardonic elements of Prokofiev’s writing and the tangible influence of impressionism, whilst simultaneously mastering the technical challenges, is a difficult task and Bavouzet and Jurowski did a commendable job of shaping a performance of great musicality. Bavouzet played two encores, including a particularly touching rendition of Debussy’s La fille aux cheveux de lin, which smartly accentuated the impressionistic elements in the Prokofiev concerto.
Metz Arsenal Grande Salle recital

Metz Arsenal Grande Salle recital

Le Républicain Lorrain by Georges Masson, May 2014

"Outre sa technique infaillible, il nourrit une palette de sons qui vont bien au-delà de la peinture impressionniste car il tire du Steinway des timbres inattendus d'une richesse de couleurs et d'une modernité qui transcende son époque... Prodigieux."

On se serait cru au temps des saisons de l'Alam où les récitals de piano des grands maîtres de l'ivoire, avaient lieu dans la grande salle de l'Arsenal, ce qui donnait de la classe au concert. Jean-Efflam Bavouzet. le soliste chéri des mélomanes messins, en fut. l'autre soir, l'artiste au zénith. Encore que l'an dernier, il avait tout de même forcé la dose, lorsqu'il interpréta avec l'ONL le Concerto de jeunesse de Gabriel Pierné.
Mais cette fois, c'est une face nouvelle de l'interprète que l'on découvrait. Avec la Sonate 33 de Haydn d'abord. On avait plutôt l'habitude de l'entendre rigoureusement millimétrée et classiquement calée entre ses barres de mesures. Foin de l'académisme ! JEB. lui. invente une histoire, distillant sa sensibilité au travers d'un Allegro caressant, gai et léger comme un vol de colibri. Sa ligne immaculée, au Sostenuto. ne plonge nullement dans l'austérité qu'on lui prête, mais ses doigts du cœur poursuivent leur parcours d'une pureté émerveillée, tandis qu'au Final, à contre-courant d'un dramatisme annoncé, il en dessine d'identiques contours, anticipatoires d'un romantisme fleurissant. Une touche à la française dira-t-on ? Le fond viennois apparaît toutefois en filigrane. Même trajectoire dans la Walds-tein de Beethoven où Jean-Efflam procédera d'une approche quasi similaire mais d'une amplitude solidement calibrée.
Son toucher limpide, son agilité fur-tive. l'élasticité de ses traits à donner le vertige, et la virtuosité cursive qui ne l'est pas moins, se manifestent dans les rebonds déployant la sensibilité imaginée du maître dont son interprète en pénètre la confidentialité et jusqu'à la complicité qu'il semble lui offrir en partage. Tout en contournant les puits d'ombre avant de bondir à nouveau, il entend incarner la dimension émotionnelle du compositeur qui apparaît àtravers sa vision onirique des affects et la poésie éthérée qu'il en dégage. Une approche contrastant totalement avec les interprétations germanisantes.
Couleurs debussystes
Seconde partie : c'est Debussy dont il est le spécialiste que va nous servir l'invité du jour avec ses 5 Études du premier Livre qui vont bien au-delà de la simple scolastique du titre. Outre sa technique infaillible, il nourrit une palette de sons qui vont bien au-delà de la peinture impressionniste, car il tire du Steinway des timbres inattendus d'une richesse de couleurs et d'une modernité qui transcende son époque. Des vertiges éblouissants de la I" à l'éruption inattendue de la 2e. le pianiste distille une émotivité fine et parfaitement contrôlée, une humeur joyeuse et de térébrants accès de fièvre sonore. La 4' développe des images réfléchies auxquelles on pourrait donner un nom tant elles sont descriptives, la 5' incarnant l'impressionnisme de papillons voletant ici et là. On y distingue nettement la patte de Bavouzet à nulle autre pareille. De Bartok pour finir, son unique sonate est un peu moins dans les cordes du clavié-riste qui. bien qu'il en respectât la solide charpente rythmique et la répétitivité percussive.n'use pas d'une férocité sonore qu'on a pu déceler chez certains solistes impétueux. On soulignera ici. les haletants « marcato ». la tension bien régulée, le volume qui. sans être orchestral, est solidement nourri, et la maîtrise totale de tous les éléments jusqu'à l'éclat final. Cerise sur le gâteau : les deux « bis ». Ondine de Ravel et Toccata de Massenet. Prodigieux.
Georges MASSON
Muziekgebouw Amsterdam Piano Serie

Muziekgebouw Amsterdam Piano Serie

Het Parool May 15 2014, by Roeland Hazendonk

"Bavouzet is zo'n topper. Hij combineerde kracht en raffinement en boeide met buitengewoon goed getroffen fraseringen en een fraai gedoseerde klank."
SWR2 Internationale Pianisten in Mainz

SWR2 Internationale Pianisten in Mainz

Wiesbadener Kurier, by Axel Zibulski May 12 2014


" Auch Bartóks Sonate mit ihrem messerscharfen Drive und ihrer rhythmischen Sogkraft faszinierte zum Abschluss dieses Saisonfinales der „SWR-Pianisten“, das Bavouzet mit drei Zugaben von Debussy bis Ravel enden ließ."
Nottingham Philharmonia Gala Concert

Nottingham Philharmonia Gala Concert

Nottingham Post by William Ruff May 1 2014

"Bavouzet and Ashkenazy were of like mind in their approach to shaping and colouring melodic lines, avoiding sentimentality but always allowing the music to sing"

Manchester Bridgewater Hall

Manchester Bridgewater Hall

bachtrack by Rohan Shotton, May 2, 2014

"He found extraordinarily lovely expressive touch in the Adagio despite a fairly forward looking tempo, immaculately shaping each phrase into elegant strands...Elsewhere, Bavouzet played with impressive power and drama. "
Seattle Symphony

Seattle Symphony

Conductor, soloist make impressive SSO debuts

The Seattle Times
Bernard Jacobson
January 24 2014


Bavouzet accomplished prodigies of prestidigitation in the opening Vivace.
PARIS Théâtre des Champs Elysées

PARIS Théâtre des Champs Elysées

L'art du clavier selon Jean-Efflam Bavouzet
ResMusica January 28 2014
by Victoria Okada


Sonate « Waldstein » de Beethoven. L’allure qu’il donne au début est merveilleusement maintenue tout au long du premier mouvement, ce qui est déjà assez rare, mais plus rare encore est qu’il le joue également avec un grand naturel, sans laisser apercevoir le moindre effort, comme si cette musique jaillissait de ses doigts.Pianiste trop discret, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet n’est pas pour autant discret quant à l’expression de son art. Au contraire, son interprétation, un véritable art, est toujours convaincante, rassurante et stylistiquement juste. Voici comment.

Le premier morceau, la Sonate en ut mineur de Haydn, montre d’emblée la clarté du discours à travers une sonorité tout aussi claire. Il exécute toutes les reprises mais ne donne aucunement une impression de répétition alors qu’il n’y met absolument pas l’accent sur des contrastes par rapport à la première apparition de chaque section. C’est donc avec un grand naturel que se déroule sa musique, le plus simplement possible. Et pourtant, des détails sur les sons adoptés – dans le mouvement lent, le son est perlé ou enveloppé, tandis que dans l’« Allegro » final le ton est plus ferme, dans un caractère complètement différent – sont remarquables.

Vient ensuite la redoutable Sonate « Waldstein » de Beethoven. L’allure qu’il donne au début est merveilleusement maintenue tout au long du premier mouvement, ce qui est déjà assez rare, mais plus rare encore est qu’il le joue également avec un grand naturel, sans laisser apercevoir le moindre effort, comme si cette musique jaillissait de ses doigts. La tranquillité apaisante du mouvement médian est très justement dosée pour arriver au final. Là, le musicien interprète le motif thématique, repris par l’octave, comme un vrai enchantement, grâce à cette sonorité cristalline, telle une lumière divine. Vers la fin, il exécute en double glissando les gammes descendantes et ascendantes en octave et en pianissimo, de telle manière que cela évoque une sorte de carillons célestes.

Si dans Beethoven il a augmenté en puissance le caractère d’attaque sur le clavier, dans Bartók c’est bien l’aspect du clavier-percussion qu’il déploie, tout en entretenant la douceur semblable à la corde dans « Sostenuto pesante ». La polyphonie d’intensités, de couleurs et de rythmes est mise en avant par une force éclatante, qui laisse l’auditeur bouche bée.

Dans les trois pièces, le rapport entre plusieurs lignes mélodiques ou celui entre la voix principale et les autres voix est toujours clairement traité, d’où le discours extrêmement intelligible. Et intentionnellement ou pas, son interprétation suggère trois types de clavier, clavecin, piano-forte et piano moderne, sur un seul Steinway. Seul un grand artiste en est capable.

Prom 30

Prom 30

Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic dance with the Russians

bachtrack
Alexandra Hamilton-Ayres
August 7, 2013


French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet stormed through Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto no. 2 with style. It is known for being an immensely challenging work with many different facets. There is always an underlying romanticism to the melody underneath the dissonances. This was demonstrated in the Andatino, where Bavouzet played arpeggios up and down the piano with an inbuilt theme giving a sense of a caged romantic melody trying to break free.The double-act of Bavouzet and Noseda had a great chemistry on stage, both very dynamic in their display.
Bavouzet, BBC Philharmonic, Noseda

Bavouzet, BBC Philharmonic, Noseda

Russians dance at the Italian conductor's command

David Nice
August 6, 2013


The scherzo flashed past with greater velocity and nimbleness than I’ve ever heard before, while the cavalcade of third-movement monsters found Noseda and Bavouzet playing naughty boys rather than carnivorous dinosaurs.There was poetry at just the right point in the rather prolix finale.
 Prom 30

Prom 30

Gianandrea Noseda - Bavouzet play Prokofiev

classicalsource
Peter Reed
August 5, 2013


My admiration for Jean-Efflam Bavouzet’s pianism is boundless, but his playing in the phenomenally demanding Prokofiev Second Piano Concerto confounded the already high expectations. He was sensational, with Noseda and the BBC Phil every bit as responsive and risk-taking in music that veers with psychotic insouciance from nineteenth-century Russian grandeur to mechanistic Communist pomp. It’s a marvellous work, and Bavouzet was assured in its acid wit, beleaguered moments of lyricism and barnstorming heroics. I was poleaxed by the colossal sound and wrong-note accuracy he produced in the rhapsodic first-movement cadenza. The sheer élan of his technique would have been enough to sustain the performance, but he and Noseda also dug into the music’s character. In the third movement, a ripe slice of Soviet brutalism, Bavouzet’s mimicry of the orchestra was wicked and brilliant, and it made you realise the mercurial ease with which the music’s lead passes to and fro between soloist and conductor.
PROM 30

PROM 30

Sparkling Prom from Bavouzet, Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic

Seen and heard international
Robert Beattie
August 5, 2013


This concert was an unalloyed triumph from start to finish and featured the BBC Philharmonic on blistering form, and a superb soloist giving a first rate account of one of the most taxing pieces in the classical repertoire. The finale was a sensational piece of playing with Bavouzet giving an adrenaline-fuelled account of the opening leaping theme and a beautifully worked and highly virtuosic cadenza. In the quieter sections he showed excellent control of tone production and dynamics – there was an emotionally distant quality to the music and the faintest hint of steel in the background. The coda was sensational and had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.

Prom 30

Prom 30

BBC Philharmonic/Noseda Bavouzet

The Guardian
George Hall
August 6, 2013


Jean-Efflam Bavouzet was the soloist in Prokofiev's determinedly anti-Romantic Second Piano Concerto, a work of such appalling difficulty that it is a wonder anyone attempts to play it. Bavouzet began dreamily, before embarking on the huge technical challenges of its waywardly virtuosic writing, especially its two vast and nigh on impossibly perverse cadenzas.His synchronised fingerwork in the moto perpetuo Scherzo was astounding.
Ludwig Meets Wolfgang in a First-Night Encounter

Ludwig Meets Wolfgang in a First-Night Encounter

Alice Coote and Jean-Efflam Bavouzet at Mostly Mozart

THE NEW YORK TIMES
Zachary Wolfe
July 31, 2013


Mr. Bavouzet, always a fascinating artist, was content to remain idiosyncratic, following long, moody pauses with runs of marbled clarity and contrasting, in the slow movement, the dreamy deliberation of his opening tempo and the vehemence of his trills.
A Bit of Background Helps Frame Melodies

A Bit of Background Helps Frame Melodies

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet Performs at Kaplan Penthouse


THE NEW YORK TIMES
Vivian Schweitzer
August 1, 2013


The superb pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet took a more unusual approach when, after beginning Debussy’s “Préludes” Book II at the Kaplan Penthouse on Wednesday evening, he stopped abruptly a few notes into “Puerta del Vino” and began an energetic discourse on Debussy’s aesthetic.Throughout the set, Mr. Bavouzet’s deft touch, fluid playing and coloristic flair illuminated myriad details, which unfolded with crystalline clarity and hazy atmospherics in turn.
Mostly Mozart Festival Opening, New York

Mostly Mozart Festival Opening, New York

With impressive turns from two stellar soloists, this year’s edition got off to a flying start

FINANCIAL TIMES
Martin Bernheimer
July 31, 2013


In the Beethoven concerto, Bavouzet sustained a perfect balance between introspection and flash, bridging vast dynamic and tempo extremes without mannerism or eccentricity. He even made luxurious sense of Beethoven’s most exhaustive, stormy, circuitous cadenzas.
For once, a festival really seemed festive.
A Pianist With 176 Keys to Play With

A Pianist With 176 Keys to Play With

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet at International Keyboard Institute

THE NEW YORK TIMES
Steve Smith
July 28, 2013


I can’t recall a more gripping performance of “La Cathédrale Engloutie” (“The Submerged Cathedral”), the high point of an account both exacting and spontaneous. A rousing ovation earned a single encore: a sparkling “Feux d’Artifice” (“Fireworks”), from Debussy’s second book of Préludes....The darker, warmer tone of the Steinway suited Mr. Bavouzet’s rendition of Debussy’s Préludes, Book 1, in which a painterly range of tones and phrasings evoked illumination and fancy without sacrificing integrity.
In the Sonata in C (Op. 53, “Waldstein”), his tempo for the opening Allegro con brio was brisk, yet brilliantly controlled, with thundering climaxes and an affirmative tone. As a gracious Adagio molto segued into an animated Rondo, you were reminded not just of how revolutionary Beethoven once was but how idiosyncratic and personal his music remains.

Prokofiev 1st & 4th Concertos, MANCHESTER, UK

Prokofiev 1st & 4th Concertos, MANCHESTER, UK

Bavouzet with the BBC Philharmonic and Noseda, at Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

THE GUARDIAN
Tim Ashley
4, Nov 2012


"Jean-Efflam Bavouzet is among the most generous and indefatigable of performers"

French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet is among the most generous and indefatigable of performers, sometimes playing two works for piano and orchestra in an evening, rather than the usual one. Such was the case on this occasion, when he tackled Prokofiev's First and Fourth Concertos as the centrepieces of a particularly strong BBC Philharmonic concert, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda.
Both concertos are eccentric and suit Bavouzet's glamorous playing and quirky temperament well. The First is a one-movement ragbag of themes and styles, written when Prokofiev was only 21. The Fourth, commissioned by Paul Wittgenstein, is for the left hand only and can seem pithy, despite a slow movement of considerable grandeur and weight. The panache and charm that Bavouzet and Noseda brought to the First proved wonderfully appealing. The Fourth was all morbid humour and sardonic elegance. Bavouzet flung out scales and arpeggios with steely precision. The orchestral sound was impeccably detailed. (...)
Bartók, SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY

Bartók, SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
Joshua Kosman
October 5, 2012


"Bartók's wonderfully soulful and effervescent Third Piano Concerto with Jean-Efflam Bavouzet making a powerful Symphony debut as soloist. It was pure, unaffected delight all the way through"

(...) But the Bartók was the beating heart of the program, in a performance marked in turn by virtuosity, ebullience and tender lyricism. Bavouzet adopted a dry, sharp-edged approach to the first movement, bringing out the contrasts between piano and orchestra, and leavened the same ideas with extroverted showmanship in the fugal finale. In between came the slow movement, marked "Adagio religioso," in a soulful and long-breathed reading."


SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL - Harvey Steiman

"This time the highlight came with a warm and incisive traversal of Bartók’s final piano concerto. French soloist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet didn’t blaze through it so much as let the music flow naturally, spiked with just enough rhythmic bite to keep it juicy.
The piece starts quietly, the piano ruminating on what feels like a homespun theme while the orchestra lays down a bed of pulsating harmony. The interplay between the orchestra and piano was seamless and unhurried, concluding with a wisp of a flute question answered matter-of-factly by the piano. The night music of the middle movement, marked “adagio religioso,” is modeled after the thankful hymns Beethoven wrote for the slow movement of his String Quartet in A minor, Op. 132. Bavouzet found a warm, supple tone for the piano’s chorales while Petrenko delicately wove an interplay of strings around it. Bavouzet was equally commanding when the finale, bursting with rhythm, quickly delved into a prickly fugue. He rendered it crisply, with a sense of forward motion that Petrenko picked up smoothly and carried to a rousing conclusion."
Solistes des Serres d'Auteuil à Bagatelle

Solistes des Serres d'Auteuil à Bagatelle

7 Septembre 2012

1ère Partie: avec Steven Isserlis Sonate n°1 de Debussy, Sonate n°1 de Camille Saint-Saëns, Rhapsodie n°1 de Bartók
2e Partie: Concerto pour la main gauche de Ravel, Préludes de Debussy


FRANCE TODAY

"Le gentleman français du piano, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, en pleine maturité à tout juste 50 ans, ne s’est jamais senti aussi en forme, et cela s’entend, se voit, se respire, comme lors de son récital du festival SOLISTES DES SERRES D’AUTEUIL A BAGATELLE du 7 septembre dernier à Paris. Il a enthousiasmé le public lors d’une première partie virtuose et originale en compagnie du violoncelliste anglais Steven Isserlis (sonate n°1 de Debussy, Sonate n°1 de Camille Saint-Saëns, Rhapsodie n°1 de Bartók). Puis seul au clavier, en deuxième partie, il a pu donner toute sa mesure en interprétant un concerto pour la main gauche du compositeur français Maurice Ohana (redonné en bis !), suivi des Préludes du Livre II, année Debussy oblige (150ème anniversaire de sa naissance). Et alors là, on avait le souffle coupé par sa palette infinie de couleurs et tant de sensualité maitrisée.

Cette pleine possession de ses moyens à l’aube de la cinquantaine se retrouve dans son ébouriffant calendrier de l’année 2012 qui donne le tournis, avec quelque 75 concerts d’un bout du monde à l’autre, de l’Europe à l’Australie en passant par la Chine et l’Amérique du sud, sans oublier New York et Chicago en mars, puis New York à nouveau en août pour le Mostly Mozart Festival.

Retour aux USA dès octobre à San Francisco puis en novembre à Morrow (près d’Atlanta) puis direction Montréal, en passant par Bogota, Sao Paulo, Moscou et Pékin!

Selon lui, ce calendrier s’explique par « la conjonction heureuse » de ses deux prix- GRAMOPHONE ARTIST OF THE YEAR 2012 et BBC AWARDS 2012- et de l’année Debussy.

Mais comment garder la grande forme avec un programme pareil? « En emmenant sa femme avec soi en voyage ! », répond cet homme heureux.

Son intégrale Debussy va ressortir cet automne en coffret chez CHANDOS, sa maison attitrée, succédant à Ravel, Manuel de Falla et -surprise !- Beethoven. Il s’en explique à sa façon charmante:« « Nuits dans les jardins d’Espagne » était une évolution naturelle après Ravel et Debussy. De même qu’il y a des passages debussystes dans de Falla, Debussy a écrit des choses sublimes dans le plus pur style espagnol. Pour les sonates de Beethoven ce sera peut-être la 120ème intégrale enregistrée, mais laissez-moi l’illusion de souhaiter que je puisse contribuer à apporter ma pierre à l’édifice beethovénien ».

Les heureux afficionados de Morrow, près d’Atlanta, pourront juger sur pièce, le 17 novembre, ce grand performer dans Beethoven, et dans un de ses tubes, les Préludes de Debussy, Livre 1.

Quant aux amateurs de San Francisco et de Montréal, ils ne devraient pas rater l’occasion de l’entendre dans le troisième concerto de Bartók, qui convient à son tempérament enthousiaste, et lui est particulièrement cher : « Sir Georg Solti m’avait fait l’honneur de m’inviter à l’interpréter avec l’Orchestre de Paris en 1998, et je pense inévitablement à lui quand je le joue. Cet automne le monde entier célèbrera son 100ème anniversaire et je suis heureux d’y participer. »

A la fois enthousiaste et modeste...la grande forme!"
Mostly Mozart, LINCOLN CENTER, NY

Mostly Mozart, LINCOLN CENTER, NY

THE NEW YORK TIMES
Anthony Tommasini
August 10, 2012


"A Vibrant Performance, Though Neither Mozart Nor Even Baroque"

After the concert the French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet played a solo recital at the Kaplan Penthouse as part of the festival’s popular Little Night Music series. He began with a beautifully pensive and technically nimble account of Haydn’s Sonata in C minor (Hob. XVI:20). Then he turned to Debussy: the “Hommage à Haydn,” followed by an expansive, richly colored performance of “Images,” Series 1.

Mr. Bavouzet ended with his own astonishing and extremely difficult arrangement of Debussy’s pathbreaking, erotically charged 1912 ballet, “Jeux.” He preceded his performance with an engaging explanation of what the ballet is about (two young women meet a young man on a tennis court, and things turn steamy) and why he tried to transcribe such a complex orchestral work into a piece for “just 10 fingers.” His fingers served him well in this dazzling performance.
---------


"It is hard to attend Mostly Mozart Festival concerts these days without getting birds on the brain. Birds and bird song are a pervasive element of this year’s festival, which is exploring the “avian theme inside and outside the concert hall,” as Lincoln Center’s artistic director, Jane Moss, explains in a program note.

(...)

On the other hand, I have been newly attuned to bird-song passages in pieces I know well. Especially on Friday at Fisher Hall, during a terrific performance of Bartok’s Third Piano Concerto by the exciting French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet and the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, conducted by Louis Langrée. In the central episode of the serene slow movement, Bartok evokes mysterious night music, complete with sounds of birds and insects. Some people near me actually sat up and smiled when the piano and woodwinds played riffs and trills that evoked bird song.

Bartok wrote this concerto in 1945, the year he died, while he was gravely ill. He purposefully made it accessible, tuneful and fetching. Though there are real difficulties for the pianist, the Third Concerto is much more playable than the knotty First or the audacious Second. Mr. Bavouzet, fresh from a splendid recital of works by Haydn and Debussy the night before in one of the festival’s Little Night Music programs, reveled in the concerto’s folkloric themes, dancing spirits and bursts of crunchy chords.

In the somber opening of the second movement, marked Allegro religioso, Mr. Bavouzet voiced the theme with careful attention to the slight inner dissonances that tweak the calming harmonies. He dispatched the romping finale with a judicious blend of incisive touch and myriad colorings.

It was an inspired idea to precede the Bartok with Lutoslawski’s “Musique Funèbre” (1958), an absorbing, densely textured piece for strings, conceived as a memorial for Bartok and written in a language drawing on 12-tone technique. It begins with a sole cello, soon joined by another, playing short motifs that coalesce into yearning themes and intertwining lines. The music builds in depth and intensity to gnashing, enveloping harmonies played by the full strings.

The central section of the piece grows almost fitful with anguish before the music slowly devolves into fragments and broken phrases. Finally, just the cello, with which it all started, is left. Under Mr. Langrée, the orchestra’s string players gave a plush, taut and haunting performance.

After intermission Mr. Langrée conducted a stylish and glowing account of Mozart’s Symphony No. 39 in E flat. This was good, if not exceptional, Mozart playing. The musicians were at their best during their impressive performances of the Bartok and Lutoslawski works. Things have changed at the Mostly Mozart Festival when you can say that."
Mostly Mozart, LINCOLN CENTER, NY

Mostly Mozart, LINCOLN CENTER, NY

WWW.BACHTRACK.COM
Evan Mitchell
August 10, 2012


"Mr. Bavouzet gave an enthralling reading of the Bartók, with a strong collaborator in Mr. Langrée. Mr. Bavouzet’s sound was as if amplified: absolutely huge – always above the orchestra in the difficult acoustic of Avery Fisher Hall – while rarely sounding as if it was the result of physical strain. He relished the dialogue between soloist and orchestra, perfectly mimicking the articulation and timbre of the clarinet in two-note slurs throughout the opening Allegretto. The otherwise lovely second movement was marred by a chorale of winds with questionable intonation and even worse dynamic restraint, but the third movement closed the work energetically and was the tightest in terms of ensemble. Perfectly in keeping with the joyous mood of the ending, Mr. Bavouzet shoved his bench under the piano and jumped up to embrace Mr. Langrée."
Debussy, FESTIVAL LA ROQUE-D'ANTHERON, FR

Debussy, FESTIVAL LA ROQUE-D'ANTHERON, FR

LA PROVENCE
Jacques Corot
2 Août 2012


Debussy, Bavouzet et la lune..
.
"Sous [les] doigts [de Jean-Efflam Bavouzet] les émotions explosent, les sentiments affleurent." Jacques Corot

Il y a des moments magiques qui ne se passent que pendant les festivals de l'été. Mardi soir à l'étang des Aulnes, un des lieux "décentralisés" du festival de la Roque d'Anthéron, au moment du bis, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet joue Clair de Lune de Claude Debussy au moment même où elle se lève, belle, pleine, majestueuse, juste en face de lui. C'était la conclusion parfaite pour une soirée qui ne l'était pas moins.

(...)

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet entamait le cycle de l'intégrale pour piano de Debussy qu'il poursuivait hier au Châtean de Florans avec Philippe Cassard. Le pianiste est devenu un des meilleurs spécialistes du compositeur français. Il a ce toucher tout en délicatesse et en précision qui sied au plus impressionniste des musiciens. Sous ses doigts les émotions explosent, les sentiments affleurent. Ce fut évident dans Le petit Nègre paru en 1909 où l'on sent comme des airs de jazz et de ragtime. Le pianiste fit également merveille avec le livre II des Préludes, véritable coq-à-l'âne musical, longue rêverie entre la sombre inspiration de Brouillards et le brillant, quoi que "modérément animé", Feux d'artifice. "Quand on n'a pas les moyens de voyager, expliquait Debussy, il faut suppléer par l'imagination". Toute la sensibilité de Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, toute sa subtilité et sa technique sans faille, furent mises au service de cette imagination-là, pour un beau voyage dans la musique.

Par Jacques Corot

ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL Philharmonia Orchestra

THE GUARDIAN
Tim Ashley
December 13th, 2011


“This was one of the great performances of the Ravel, taking it into territory way beyond the realm of art deco cool, with which it is primarily associated. That tough streak in Bavouzet's playing brought out levels of harmonic bitterness we don't usually hear. Ashkenazy, meanwhile, allowed a jittery shrillness to intrude upon Ravel's jazzy scoring. In many respects, this was Bavouzet's concert rather than Ashkenazy's.” (The Guardian, December 2011)

ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL

THE INDEPENDANT
***** Michael Church
December 12th, 2011


"This concert was a big success, but for this flamboyant Frenchman it could mark the beginning of British stardom... Bavouzet achieved an almost Mozartian eloquence; his pianism in the concluding Presto was both electrifying and flawless."

The French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet may be in his mid-forties, but he’s going for the slow burn on this side of the Channel: he’s probably better known to audiences in Beijing (where his Beethoven has caused a sensation) and in the Lofoten islands of Norway (where he runs a piano festival) than he is to audiences in Britain.

Here his reputation rests mainly on his award-winning Debussy recordings, and on his revelatory series of Haydn sonatas for Chandos.

In an interview before playing Ravel’s ‘Piano Concerto in G’, he said the stop-start momentum of the first movement meant that making it sound ‘natural’ was its biggest challenge. He also observed that this work’s character can change according to the company it keeps: programme it next to Stravinsky’s ‘Concerto for Winds’, as Bavouzet often does, and it will seem Stravinskyan, but if it’s juxtaposed with de Falla, as he was going to do here, it will sound quintessentially Spanish.

Ravel rashly proposed to premiere it himself until friends pointed out that he wasn’t up to the pyrotechnics: the pianissimo Lisztean cascade with which the soloist begins is a challenge in itself, but Bavouzet despatched this with nonchalant grace, before evoking the spirits of Stravinsky, Debussy, and Gershwin in the first movement’s kaleidoscopic statement of intent. This work had emerged at a time when jazz and Josephine Baker were all the rage in Paris and, abetted by Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Philharmonia Orchestra, Bavouzet brought out its hard-edged art-deco brilliance with a correspondingly dry and percussive touch. The challenge of the slow movement is to make sense of a melodic line whose softly-ruminative course runs for ten unbroken minutes: with Ashkenazy and the orchestra providing a circumambient glow, Bavouzet achieved an almost Mozartian eloquence; his pianism in the concluding Presto was both electrifying and flawless. High as a kite when taking his applause (and blowing an appreciative kiss to the jazzer-trombones), he sat down again to give a majestic account of Debussy’s tone-poem ‘La puerta del vino’.

Tackling Manuel de Falla’s ‘Noches en los jardines de Espana’ after the interval, he dazzled again. For Ashkenazy and the Philharmonia, who wound up with Debussy’s ‘La mer’, this concert was a big success, but for this flamboyant Frenchman it could mark the beginning of British stardom.


QUEEN ELIZABETH HALL

THE TIMES
Hilary Finch
October 25th, 2011


"And the sound of the Bavouzet fingers is distinctive. It is searching, penetrating, imaginatively fired, and endlessly curious in its exploration of any composer’s unique sound palette and language...He has an ever-growing concentrated following of those who relish a sophisticated, canny musician who plays with an infectious sense of childlike delight."

The Queen Elizabeth Hall wasn’t full, and it should have been. But Jean-Efflam Bavouzet is not a pianist who draws the celeb hunters, nor the piano-circuit groupies, still less the media-obedient. Instead, he has an ever-growing concentrated following of those who relish a sophisticated, canny musician who plays with an infectious sense of childlike delight.

And the sound of the Bavouzet fingers is distinctive. It is searching, penetrating, imaginatively fired, and endlessly curious in its exploration of any composer’s unique sound palette and language. For Haydn, for example, Bavouzet played the Sonata in C minor (Hob XVI/20) on a bright-toned Yamaha, finding a chiaroscuro of dynamics and tones within the elegantly sculpted phrases and trilling curlicues of the first movement, and a supple gentilesse for the slow movement, shaded by the minutest touches of pedalling.

Then the Yamaha was wheeled off, and a Steinway glided on ready for Bavouzet’s artfully ordered programme of Debussy: from his mischievous Hommage à Joseph Haydn to seven of his Études, prefaced by Bartók’s own tributes to Debussy. When the audience, overeager to applaud, threatened to disturb Bavouzet’s meticulously planned sequences (as in a delectable Clair de lune triptych), then Bavouzet just sat tight and let the music segue onwards. His own wonderfully imaginative and virtuoso arrangement of the orchestral Jeux lit the first half; the droll five-finger exercise and triumphant Pour les octaves finale sealed the second.

QUEEN ELIZABETH HALL

CLASSICAL SOURCE
Peter Reed
October 23rd, 2011


"Apart from his phenomenal but understated technique, Bavouzet has in addition an extraordinary ability to seem to be directing his own performances, as though he’s providing a presence outside himself, and it goes some way to explaining the fierce passion, remarkable intelligence and free-wheeling creativity of his transcendent playing."

The last time I heard the French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet live was at this year’s BBC Proms, as soloist in a compelling performance of Bartók’s First Concerto. The same rhythmic tautness, exploratory attention to detail and expressive, wave-like energy came pouring out into this matinee recital. Bavouzet has embarked on recording for Chandos all of Haydn’s keyboard sonatas, which at last seem to be making their way on to the fixtures list of pianists’ programmes. The dark C minor gave us an idea of the quality of musicianship he brings to music that was nurtured by the mannerist High Baroque but by nature set its sights on the very different expressive needs of the Classical style.

It’s preferable, I suppose, for a listener to sit on the keyboard side for a piano recital, but it’s no less illuminating to see a pianist’s pedalling – and to hear the result. Bavouzet’s was faultlessly subtle, with a fortepiano-like deftness that gave a hint of roundness to the scrupulously observed phrasing. Silences play as important a part in Haydn’s limpid, carefully crafted expressive territory, and Bavouzet folded them into the music’s quiet but intense introspection to miraculous effect. In the slow movement he revealed his uncanny ability to open up the melodic cells so that they seem to accrue their own character, which is at the heart of the Classical ‘narrative’ style, a process that Bavouzet enabled here with such distinction.

He played the Haydn on a Yamaha, which was replaced by a Steinway for the rest of the programme. The clipped, bright sound of the former suited the self-contained Haydn, but there was no doubting the more expansive dynamism of the Steinway sound. Just to make clear the connection between Haydn and Debussy’s homage to him, Bavouzet bashed out with one finger the musical transcription of Haydn’s name (B, A, D, D, G), an unyielding motif that Debussy deconstructs into a short waltz. That link segued neatly into Debussy himself, with a group of moon-inspired pieces. Bavouzet’s ravishing performance of Clair de lune discreetly tugged at the veil of the sublime, at the same time as reminding us that the French world of impressions is a very precise art, more thoroughly examined in the Image and Prélude through Bavouzet’s extraordinary control of colour and suggestion of mood.

Ballet fans tell me that Jeux is not that frequently performed in a choreographed performance, although it crops up regularly in concerts. I’ve only seen it once – it starts with someone lobbing a tennis-ball onto the stage for a game between two women and a man – and, ever since, Debussy’s wonderful score has been inextricably linked with dance in a way that Stravinsky’s scores don‘t have to be. Bavouzet’s brilliant piano version is about as far from being a reduction of an orchestral score as you can get. It captures the music’s lithe, rhythmic surge and percussive possibilities, and Bavouzet’s performance turned the spotlight on its balletic gestures, leading us to the point where the playful veneer of a game of tennis blossoms, if that’s the word, into something quite ferocious and erotic.

Colour, rhythm and propulsive force were much harder and incisive in the Bartók, which stretched even Bavouzet’s considerable reserves of stamina and defined the different sort of physicality this music demands. He was at the top of his virtuosic, interpretive game in the group of Debussy Studies, which, as with Chopin, took the didactic nature of digital improvement into another realm altogether. Apart from his phenomenal but understated technique, Bavouzet has in addition an extraordinary ability to seem to be directing his own performances, as though he’s providing a presence outside himself, and it goes some way to explaining the fierce passion, remarkable intelligence and free-wheeling creativity of his transcendent playing.

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