I don't know why so many people have hesitated to buy this recording of Beethoven's first ten piano sonatas by the masterful French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet - the first in a projected set of three, and it is a bit pricy, I have to admit - but let me say without reservations that this is one of best performances of Beethoven's early sonatas that I've heard in over 30 years!
Considering the competition in this repertoire - and to call it "massive" would be the mother of all understatements! - Bavouzet (who has been greatly praised for his recordings of Haydn, Debussy and Ravel) more than holds his own with the best of the best. Stylish and refreshingly imaginative playing is consistently accompanied by breathtakingly fearless technique.
My goodness! Just listen to the fire and self assurance that Bavouset unleashes with the first chords of the `Pathetique' sonata... and the fire only seems to build and spread as the sonata moves to its incendiary conclusion. Magnificent!
Chandos' recorded sounds is, as always, lush and detailed and simply smothered in a warm and creamy accoustic; "not the perfect sound-picture for Beethoven's sonatas," you may be thinking, but rest assured that it will simply win you over from first note to last.
My only thoughts after living with these remarkable recordings for over two months is how in the world is Bavouzet going to continue with the rest of his Beethoven cycle, maintaining the same level of enthusiasm, spontaneity and outright pianistic genius in the next 23 sonatas (just imagine the 'Waldstein' and 'Tempest' and 'Hammerklavier' sonatas in the hands of this inspired Frenchman!) and when, Mr. Bavouzet, may we expect the second instalment of your highly enjoyable cycle to be released?
It cannot be too soon!