After having won the Gramophone Award in 2014 for his recording of Prokofiev’s five piano concertos, exclusive Chandos artist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet here explores the complete works for piano and orchestra of another Russian composer of the twentieth century: Igor Stravinsky.
Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 2, Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the left hand, and Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Wind Orchestra make good company. First, Bavouzet considers them ‘the greatest concertos of the twentieth century’. Furthermore, he has recorded all of them with Chandos. Last, but not least, his recordings of both Bartók’s (CHAN 10610) and Ravel’s (CHSA 5084) were shortlisted for Gramophone Awards in 2011 (‘Concerto’ category). The winner? The latter, which marked the first collaboration between Jean-Efflam Bavouzet and Yan Pascal Tortelier, one that is resumed on the present album.
It starts with the crisp games with rhythms, polyphony, and classical form of the expressive, weighty Concerto for Piano and Wind Orchestra. Then the Capriccio is a piece that Stravinsky composed as a repertoire alternative to his concerto; he performed it more than forty times in the first four years after its creation. The antitonal, twelve-tone idiom of Movements represents Stravinsky’s experiments in the use of serial techniques.
Pétrouchka is a work for piano and orchestra as well, except that the piano here is not a solo instrument but rather part of the orchestral fabric. Moreover, Bavouzet himself has described blending in with the fortissimos of the orchestra as ‘one of the best musical experiences of my life’.