“Stravinsky belongs to that group of composers whom we admire first and foremost for their intellect… but it would be a mistake to believe that this intellectual admiration excludes emotion.” So writes pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet in the note to his terrific new recording featuring Stravinsky’s works for piano and orchestra and which appeals to the heart as much as the head.
Bavouzet won awards last year for his recording of the Prokofiev Piano Concertos. Here, joined by a very much on-form São Paulo Symphony Orchestra under the suave, alert direction of Yan Pascal Tortelier, he again demonstrates his affinity for genuine orchestral collaboration while submitting to that lapidary yet rhythmically vital realisation of line and texture so important in Stravinsky’s music.
The Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments has never sounded more like a multi-coloured riot of tessellation across which drift occasional shadows. The following Capriccio is also pure delight, Bavouzet’s playing shot through with a sparkling lyricism that he even manages to inject into the 12-tone Movements. And if the piano in Pétrouchka is merely a member of the orchestra, Bavouzet nevertheless relishes his role in contributing to one of the tightest yet most theatrically lavish performances of this work committed to disc in a long time. Chandos’s sound is appropriately bright and detailed.