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  • Debussy: Piano Works Vol.5 (Debussy Transcriptions: Khamma/ La Boite A Joujoux/ Jeux)
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Debussy: Piano Works Vol.5 (Debussy Transcriptions: Khamma/ La Boite A Joujoux/ Jeux) CD

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An exclusive recording artist for Chandos, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet received a Gramophone Award in 2011 for his recording of works by Debussy and Ravel (with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Yan Pascal Tortelier) and his recording of the Bartók Concerti (with Gianandrea Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic) was shortlisted in the concerto category. He has won multiple awards for his recording of ... Read more in Amazon's Jean-Efflam Bavouzet Store

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Debussy: Piano Works Vol.5 (Debussy Transcriptions: Khamma/ La Boite A Joujoux/ Jeux) + Debussy: Complete Works for Piano, Vol. 4
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Product details

  • Conductor: None
  • Composer: Debussy
  • Audio CD (26 Oct. 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: CHANDOS
  • ASIN: B002Q1LJZ6
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 263,557 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Khamma - Legende Dansee - Jean-Efflam Bavouzet
2. Jeux - Poeme Danse - Jean-Efflam Bavouzet
3. La Boite a Joujoux - Ballet Pour Enfants - Jean-Efflam Bavouzet

Product Description

Product Description

CHA 10545; CHANDOS - Inghilterra; Classica da camera Piano

BBC Review

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet is full of intriguing statements. In the notes for Volume 5 of his Debussy series, he’s come up with a particularly heart-warming one. He claims that it wasn’t until his 30s that he found himself truly moved by this great French composer. “I would rather describe my relationship to his music as a constant process of maturation”, he writes. Unusual words for a French pianist, and it’s also quite the maturation given that Volume 4 has won him the Instrumental category at both the 2009 BBC Music Magazine Awards and Gramophone Awards. This knowledge of Bavouzet’s musical journey, though, makes one appreciate his performance here all the more.

Volume 5 is interesting for presenting repertoire that was never really intended for public performance. Khamma, Jeux and La Boîte à joujoux were three ballets written between 1910 and 1913. Bavouzet has recorded the piano scores used to rehearse the dancers, and they are riddled with difficulties. Whilst Debussy wrote the two usual piano staves, he also added significant additional musical elements above or below them. Whilst nimble fingers are essential, the real difficulty is in creating the illusion of several layers of sound, all corresponding to different instrumental groups. One might have to simultaneously simulate rumbling cellos and brassy trumpet calls whilst maintaining a smooth orchestral line in the middle. Furthermore, the fact that the score for Jeux ranges from being genuinely unplayable in its density, to being meagrely thin, meant Bavouzet ended up rewriting it for himself. 

What this means is that this isn’t the usual sort of CD release. Normally, one knows what is coming and can simply assess how the instrumentalist in question has performed the accepted notes. Here, it’s a musical adventure for everyone, and Bavouzet has more than achieved what he set out to do. Anyone familiar with Debussy’s shimmering orchestral colouration will recognise it translated into piano form, and anyone who isn’t will find their imaginations filling in the blanks. Textural layering and instrumental colouring aside, the ballets’ contrasting moods are perfectly captured, from Khamma’s Egyptian temple at midnight, to the delightful evocation of childhood presented by La Boîte à joujou. --Charlotte Gardner

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John Wilson VINE VOICE on 15 Jan. 2010
Format: Audio CD
Bavouzet rounds off his survey of Debussy's complete piano music with a typically brilliant, insightful and virtuosic performance. The piano versions of the ballet works on the disc are not widely known but certainly deserve to be. As Bavouzet himself says in his percipient notes, some passages here are amongst the most technically difficult in all Debussy. (One piece was literally unplayable in the original script.)

Bavouzet brings a sensitivity and sympathy to these works which wins the listener over, making them utterly compelling. As with previous volumes in this excellent cycle, this can be heartily recommended - more so, even, as other "complete" Debussy piano cycles rarely include any of these works. For me the only real competitor in Debussy interpretation right now is Bavouzet's compatriot, Jean-Yves Thibaudet. An excellent disc.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Bavouzet Finishes His Debussy Survey with Three Rarities 9 Dec. 2009
By J Scott Morrison - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Debussy tended to write his orchestral works in short score, meaning essentially in a version more or less playable at the piano. And this, the final disc in Jean-Efflam Bavouzet's outstanding traversal of all of Debussy's piano music, is what we get here, a pianist playing pieces we know much better in their orchestral garb. All three of these scores -- Khamma, Jeux, and La Boîte à Joujoux -- were ballets. And ballets tend to need a piano reduction so that ballet companies could rehearse them without having to have an orchestra present.

Khamma (1910-1912), an 'Egyptian ballet', was never completely orchestrated by Debussy because the dancer who commissioned it was unwilling to provide the huge orchestra Debussy felt the work required. Hence he only finished orchestrating about a fifth of the score. Eventually Charles Koechlin finished the orchestration under Debussy's watchful eye and the piece was premièred (in concert, not as accompaniment for a ballet) in 1924, six years after Debussy's death. It was never danced until 1947, and it remains one of Debussy's least known works. The score is episodic in illustration of various aspects of the life and death of the Egyptian priestess Khamma. It contains some forward thinking harmonies and gestures. Bavouzet brings it to life with his fine attention to color and precise articulation.

Jeux (Games) must have one of the oddest scenarios of any ballet, taking place on a tennis court. It was choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky, whose choreography, Debussy said, 'trampled over my poor rhythms like some weed.' The première was greeted with bemused incomprehension. And then a couple of weeks later Stravinsky's Rite of Spring was premièred and in all the hubbub about it Jeux disappeared from the scene until years later it joined the concert repertoire, although still somewhat rarely played. The music, however, is one of Debussy's finest works -- I'm particularly fond of a recording of the orchestral version by Bernard Haitink and the Royal Concertgebouw Debussy: Nocturnes; Jeux -- and Debussy himself made the piano version. Bavouzet plays the light-hearted, alternately flirty, seductive and ecstatic music in masterly fashion.

La Boîte à Joujoux (The Box of Toys) is described as 'a ballet for children'. Debussy wrote it for his beloved daughter Emma (nicknamed Chouchou) for whom he had earlier written the Children's Corner Suite. The composer envisioned it as being performed by marionettes but then decided he wanted children dancing all the parts. He never saw it performed and when it was premièred in 1919 it was danced by adults. It is one of Debussy's most lighthearted and unaffected scores. It quotes a number of familiar tunes (e.g., the Soldiers' March from 'Faust' and Mendelssohn's Wedding March, as well as an English nursery song sung by Chouchou's English nanny). The scenario has a cardboard soldier falling in love with a doll who spurns him for the love of Punch.

Bavouzet includes a note about the requirements for playing these three scores. La Boîte à Joujoux is fairly straightforward as Debussy prepared the piano version very carefully. Khamma is altogether different in that it requires more than the usual two staves, not all of which can be played without overdubbing (which Bavouzet decided not to do); the pianist has to make judgments about what to include and what to leave out. Bavouzet decided to do his best by imitating what can be heard in the orchestral version. One can hear some differences between the piano and orchestral versions but it is actually amazing what Bavouzet is able to pull off. Jeux is even more difficult, indeed unplayable in some places. And at the same time there are some places where the writing is so thin that it is impossible for the pianist to make up for the piano's lack of orchestral color. Again, I am amazed at how well Bavouzet makes us hear, at least in our mind's ear, the orchestral fabric, and he adds something in terms of clarity of structure, something that sometimes does not come through in orchestral performance. (In his notes he says that Jeux is one of the most difficult things he's ever tried to play.)

Of the five CDs in Bavouzet's Debussy traversal, this is probably the least essential, but for all that it is utterly fascinating for those who might want to go beyond the usual Debussy piano oeuvre and hear yet more of Debussy's utterly original piano writing.

Scott Morrison
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Debussy & Bavouzet 6 May 2013
By Rex Bavousett - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Debussy's fingerwork were monumental. Jean-Efflam Bavouzet's is the best pianist of Debussy's work since Philippe Entremont. I love it, and highly recommend this CD to anyone interested in a great collection.
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Composition/Performance for Piano Fans 18 Dec. 2009
By S. R. Arthur - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I am an amateur classical music listener, but am a huge fan of piano. This CD is absolutely wonderful. The production quality is fantastic, and Bavouzet truly knows how to make every range of the piano sing with life. This composition is filled with a roller coaster ride of emotions, and I truly enjoyed the ride.
Finishing a great set 29 Jan. 2015
By Kent - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The fifth in a great set. Bavouzet has won over acquaintances of mine who had sworn off Debussy forever.
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