Ravel’s wonderful Piano Concerto in G continues to be one of the most popular in the concert hall and on record, but each time I hear it I am made aware of how difficult the perfect ensemble playing is to achieve.
His Concerto for the Left Hand requires a different approach, for here the broad sweep of Ravel’s ideas are paramount. Mostly this is achieved in this excellent recording. Only the rapid-fire trumpets in the explosion of sound at the five-minute mark are lost. Bavouzet is at his eloquent best in the slower movements of both concerti.
Debussy’s piece is a mixture of old and new, and although not top-drawer Debussy, it is a delightful work. This, and a selection of Massenet’s piano music, is what separates this CD from the pack. It is rare repertoire and unfamiliar to me. I think lovers of French piano music will be as delighted as I was.
Massenet’s Toccata is a brilliant piece and although it predates much of Ravel, is very companionable. Deux Impromtus and Deux Pièces pour piano find Massenet in a more mellifluous mood. Finally Valse folle is quite rambunctious and punchy.
Bavouzet plays all the music exquisitely. Never lacking power, his pianism is also elegant and feather light. The orchestra handles the concerti superbly and Tortelier conducts with style and authority