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Works By Ravel, Debussy & Massenet [Hybrid SACD, SACD]

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Biography

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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Product details

  • Conductor: Tortelier
  • Composer: Ravel, Debussy, Massenet
  • Audio CD (1 Nov 2010)
  • Please Note: Requires SACD-compatible hardware
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD, SACD
  • Label: Chandos
  • ASIN: B0044FEZD0
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 116,156 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Piano Concerto in G major (Ravel)
2. Piano Concerto for the Left Hand (Ravel)
3. Fantaisie for Piano and Orchestra (Debussy)
4. Valse Folle (Massenet)
5. Papillons blancs (Massenet)
6. Papillons noirs (Massenet)
7. Eau courante (Massenet)
8. Eau dormante (Massenet)
9. Toccata (Massenet)

Product Description

Review

An all-too-rare outing for Debussy's luxuriant Fantaisie makes this a must. Gramophone recommended. --Gramophone,Dec'10

This is a disc of pure pleasure,with some revelations thrown in for good measure. Performance ***** Recording **** --BBC Music Magazine,Jan'11

Product Description

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, piano - BBC Symphony Orchestra - Yan Pascal Tortelier, direction

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Goes Right to the Top 11 Dec 2010
By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
Suddenly in the last few years there have been three French pianists who have burst upon the scene: Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Alexandre Tharaud, and Jean-Efflam Bavouzet. And I collect the recordings of all three without fail. Bavouzet came into my view with his extraordinary recordings of the complete solo works of Debussy Debussy: Complete Works For Piano, Vol. 3, Debussy: Complete Works for Piano, Vol. 2, etc. And his magnificent Haydn sonatas Haydn: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 1. Now we get a (mostly) concerto CD comprising Debussy's 'Fantaisie' and the two Ravel concertos. For lagniappe we get rarely heard solo pieces by Massenet, pieces I'd never heard before. Charming and old-fashioned in this company and probably not great works, those Massenets, but delightful (and a bit surprising, honestly) to hear. The 'Toccata' is marvelous and I would never have guessed it was by Massenet. Both Roger Nichols, the writer of the fine booklet notes, and Bavouzet, in his note, comment on the similarity between Massenet's Toccata and that in Ravel's 'Tombeau de Couperin.' The 'Valse folle' is a whirlwind which sounds a good twenty years more modern than anything of Massenet's I've ever heard.

But the main dishes in this French repast are the Debussy and Ravel. The Debussy 'Fantaisie' is not often played in concert in my experience and it doesn't sound entirely like the Debussy we all know and love, largely because it is a very early work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant playing and a very enjoyable programme 28 Jun 2013
By DavidT
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I have enjoyed listening to these work, particularly the Ravel. I would highly recommend this and Mr Bavouzet's other Debussy CD's.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive Ravel concertos on SACD 5 Nov 2010
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Hallelujah! Put out the fatted calf! At last a thoroughly recommendable set of the Ravel Piano Concertos on SACD.

When reviewing the (extremely) sub-par efforts of Roget on Oehms, I commented that we had to retrieve our vinyl and - even - RBCD to hear these works performed well. But we can now safely return these to the shelves.

Bavouzet, the BBCSO and Tortelier are clearly of one mind in these performances. Bavouzet's playing is refined, sophisticated and just has precisely the right degree of distanced Gallic passion. The pieces flow and are structured immaculately. In short, these are thoroughly engaging, exciting and idiomatic performances.

And the fill-ups? The Massenet solo piano pieces are tuneful, interesting and pleasant miniatures. However, the Debussy Fantasie which opens the disc is - frankly - inconsequential and eminently unmemorable IMO.

The sound quality is superb throughout - with one small proviso I will come to in a minute. The piano tone is liquid, focussed and refined. The whole recording is superbly crystalline and transparent, in the best Chandos manner. As a result, every strand of the delicate orchestration in these pieces is beautifully revealed.

Now the small proviso. The piano is nicely set in a mid-hall perspective. However, I then find the orchestra too close- in other words, the piano and orchestra are a tad too close together; I would have preferred greater distancing of the latter, in normal Chandos house style! That would also have produced more hall sound.

But let's not quibble over minutiae. Bottom line, this is a fine and wholly recommendable disc.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection almost within reach 8 Jan 2012
Format:Audio CD
It seems difficult to find a masterpiece that gets as many disappointing performances as the Ravel G Major Concerto. The first two movements pose serious interpretative problems. In the first movements, these have to do with the tempo relations between the Allegramente main theme and the Meno vivo secondary sections. Meno vivo certainly means slower than the basic tempo, but how much so? Many pianists cannot resist the temptation to slam on the breaks and prepare for a show of hyper-sensitive pianism, thereby destroying both the continuity and the dry humour of the piece. In the Adagio, there is basically just one tempo, and it is certainly quite slow (`Assez lent') but not extremely so, - the piece should not sound unduly solemn or pathetic. Ravel's models here were Mozart and Saint-SaŽns, not Bruckner or Tchaikovsky.
Marguerite Long's 1932 recording with the composer conducting clearly demonstrates how these pieces should be done, but that recording really sounds its age. From the stereo era, there used to be three really good recordings: the volatile, exuberant FranÁois with Cluytens (EMI), the incomparable Monique Haas with Paul Paray (DG) and as an outsider, the intensely poetic Moravec (Supraphone), endearingly accompanied by the characterful but not wholly idiomatic Prague Philharmonia under Belohlavek.
Bavouzet now joins this trio; to my ears, he finishes in second place just behind Haas. In the booklet notes, Bavouzet writes that he and Tortelier were both pupils of the great Ravelian Pierre Sancan, and they certainly know how to pace the music - in both movements, they are just seconds slower than Long or Haas. I do have some reservations, however, concerning the orchestral playing.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Notch Performances 28 Jun 2011
By David A. Wend - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet is not a well-known pianist despite many recordings that includes a superb account of the piano music of Claude Debussy. Gramophone included him among their artist of the year nominations for 2009.

The piece on this disc that got my attention was the Fantasie for Piano and Orchestra by Debussy. The Fantasie is an early work from 1889 but it was never performed in its entirety and Debussy intended to rework it. He never got around to revising the work and the Fantasie wasn't performed until 1919. The Fantasie is in three movements. The music show how Debussy progressed from the influence of Faure toward the impressionism of his later works. Mr. Bavouzet performs with the utmost poetry and the BBC Symphony Orchestra brings out the youthful exuberance of the young Debussy.

The Ravel Concerto in G could not be more different from the Debussy. I particularly liked the stress on the jazz elements. The middle movement is pure poetry, performed while the finale has all the exuberance one would wish for. The Piano Concerto for the Left Hand receives a performance that brings out the drama of the music without making it overblown. The jazz elements of the score are well played and the music unfolds with precision and beauty. The final cadenza is played with a slowly rising intensity and as the orchestra brings the music to a close one is left feeling exhilarated by the performance. These are performances arguably among the best performances of the two Ravel concerti.

The inclusion of the piano pieces by Jules Massenet make a great addition to this CD. Unfortunately, the operas of Massenet have eclipsed his outstanding piano concerto and works for the keyboard. Mr. Bavouzet performs the pieces with great affection and reminds us that Massenet won the Premiere Prix for piano in 1859.

Overall, this disc has an excellent musical program with very fine performances conducted by Yan Pascal Tortelier. Even if you own other performances of the Ravel concerti this is a must-have disc.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Goes Right to the Top 11 Dec 2010
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Suddenly in the last few years there have been three French pianists who have burst upon the scene: Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Alexandre Tharaud, and Jean-Efflam Bavouzet. And I collect the recordings of all three without fail. Bavouzet came into my view with his extraordinary recordings of the complete solo works of Debussy Debussy: Complete Works For Piano, Vol. 3, Debussy: Complete Works for Piano, Vol. 2, etc. And his magnificent Haydn sonatas Haydn: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 1. Now we get a (mostly) concerto CD comprising Debussy's 'Fantaisie' and the two Ravel concertos. For lagniappe we get rarely heard solo pieces by Massenet, pieces I'd never heard before. Charming and old-fashioned in this company and probably not great works, those Massenets, but delightful (and a bit surprising, honestly) to hear. The 'Toccata' is marvelous and I would never have guessed it was by Massenet. Both Roger Nichols, the writer of the fine booklet notes, and Bavouzet, in his note, comment on the similarity between Massenet's Toccata and that in Ravel's 'Tombeau de Couperin.' The 'Valse folle' is a whirlwind which sounds a good twenty years more modern than anything of Massenet's I've ever heard.

But the main dishes in this French repast are the Debussy and Ravel. The Debussy 'Fantaisie' is not often played in concert in my experience and it doesn't sound entirely like the Debussy we all know and love, largely because it is a very early work. There are Debussyan fingerprints, of course, like whole-tone passages and quirky harmonic movement, but the work itself often sounds like quasi-Fauré (not that there's anything wrong with that). Still, Bavouzet and his colleagues -- Yan Pascal Tortelier and the BBC Philharmonic -- give a performance that makes the best possible case for it. The only other recording I have of the Fantaisie is the old one by Walter Gieseking which is fine but in ancient sound. I've not heard the one by Zoltan Kocsis, but I can imagine that it is pretty good. Debussy: Solo Piano Music; Fantaisie; Ravel: Piano Concertos

Ah, but the Ravel concertos are among the very best written in the twentieth century. The G Major Concerto has one recording that stands above all the rest: Michelangeli Ravel: Piano Concerto in G; Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 4. But Bavouzet comes awfully close. He plays the gorgeous second movement with great beauty of tone at the same time that he plays that long aching, arching opening melody with restraint, just as I imagine Ravel wanted. The third movement is extremely fast, jazzy, exhilarating. The BBC Symphony's bassoonist, amazingly, keeps up with Bavouzet. The only complaint is that the whip is anemic-sounding.

The Left Hand Concerto ascends from that froggy depth with which it begins and becomes a jazzy struggle of the best kind, an entirely muscular performance that does not skimp on the poetry. This is possibly the best recording of it I've heard, although I continue to love the one by Zimerman/Boulez Ravel: The Piano Concertos; Valses nobles et sentimentales.

Strongly recommended.

Scott Morrison
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An engaging pianist who pleases in every way 1 May 2011
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Bavouzet's name isn't as well known as other pianists who are part of the Parisian march on the keyboard, such as Helene Grimaud and Jean-Yves Thibaudet, but his recordings for Chandos have been eye-openers. I was very impressed by his recording of the three Bartok concertos, and here he faces similar odds. Do we even remotely need another recording of the Ravel G major Concerto? The historically minded treasure Michelangeli's famous EMI recording, although its sonics are antique by now; in modern times I'd say that Martha Argerich owns the work and plays it with more dazzle than any rival. Bavouzet has a few advantages, however. The orchestral accompaniment is as sparkling and alert as his playing, and Chandos's sound is vivid and full of impact, really up to date, in fact. The piano is recorded beautifully, and as a final enticement, there are unusual fillers.

Is all of that enough? If you love either or both of Ravel's piano concertos, the answer is yes. The Left-Hand Concerto is the lesser work, but Yves Pascal Tortelier and the BBC Sym. throw themselves into the score. When Ravel accepted this commission from the wealthy one-armed pianist Paul Wittgenstein (a musical conservative who initially didn't like the Ravel work, as he didn't like what he received from Prokofiev or Britten), the composer made the point that he wanted the solo writing not to be thinner than concertos for two hands. But it is. Ravel substitutes striking, compact rhythmic motifs to set the piano off against the orchestra, and there are marvelous orchestral touches, starting with the climb from the Stygian gloom at the bottom of the orchestra up to the light -- it's like watching prehistoric life evolve. Tortelier realizes how much of the burden he must carry, and he sails through with the best orchestral reading I've heard. Bavouzet is very good, too, best in the jazzy middle section and the unaccompanied rainfall of notes that feels like Debussy's water music.

He brings jazzy vivacity to the G major Concerto as well, and as in his Bartok, he softens the brittleness of the solo part, shading it in a more lyrical -- I want to say more humane -- way. One reason that I wasn't eager about this CD initially is that I don't respond to Ravel's musical dandyism, so Bavouzet's warmth appeals to me. Screw up the excitement two more notches and you arrive at Argerich. Even so, this is a lovely reading, and Argerich has never enjoyed such gorgeous piano sound.

The program begins with Debussy's early Fantasie, the only piano concerto we have from a composer celebrated for is piano writing. But there's not much evidence of the Preludes, Images, ad Etudes to come in a work from 1889-90, when he was 27. In fact, Debussy suppressed the piece while it was in rehearsal; it wasn't premiered until after is death in 1918. Mr. Morrison's review does full justice to a melodic diversion that is watered down Faure with touches of Franck. I am more enthusiastic about Bavouzet's choice of six piano pieces by Massenet, which epitomize the sophistication of the salon culture that adored his operas. They charm the ear as gently as Faure or Debussy, if not with the latter's revolutionary overtones.

Overall, this was a delightful listen from a pianist who seems more or less impeccable in whatever he touches.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ravel: Concerto in G; Concerto for the Left Hand / Massenet: (6) Piano Pieces / Debussy: Fantaisie 26 Sep 2011
By Bjorn Viberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Ravel: Concerto in G; Concerto for the Left Hand / Massenet: (6) Piano Pieces / Debussy: Fantaisie is a 2010 Chandos Records Ltd recording starring Jean-Efflam Bavouzet. Yan Pascal Tortelier leads here the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Bavouzet himself has written the music notes. Translated into English by Stephen Pettitt. The sound quality is superb and it verily feels as if one is listeníng to this recording live. Highly recommended indeed. 5/5.
4 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars OOM-PAH-PAH, OOM-PAH-PAH... UGH 12 May 2011
By R. J. Gonzalez - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This is disc contains the most prosaic and pedestrian performance of the middle movement of the Ravel Concerto in G that I have ever heard. Bavouzet and Tortelier sound like they are in such a hurry they completely miss the point of the most beautiful, lyrical melody composed by Maurice Ravel. There is NO poetry or calm here, just efficiency and dash, and that is a shame...

Yes, the sound is good, though the English Horn solo in the Concerto in G starts way too soft. But, dynamics aside, this performance CANNOT stand next to the best, in spite of its lustrous sonics. Yes, the recording is excellent in surround, but Tortelier messes this one up just like his pedestrian Faure Requiem on the same label... Yes, Bavouzet is very facile on the keyboard, but so are hundreds of piano machines in the world, at present.

The best performances of the Ravel Concerto in G are still on EMI RBCD: Benedetti-Michelangeli, and Collard. The sound on the former is better as the Collard is a distant recording that sometimes clots in climaxes.

It's great to have the Debussy and Ravel pieces on the same disc, but this is NO bargain...

My copy is headed for the second-hand disc shop... UGH
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