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Jean Efflam-Bavouzet’s magical recital on the Wigmore Corridor – Seen and Heard Worldwide


United Kingdom Fauré, Debussy, Bartók: Jean Efflam-Bavouzet (piano). Wigmore Corridor, London, 13.11.2022. (JC)

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet performs within the Wigmore Corridor

Fauré – Nocturne No.6 in D flat main, Op.63X
Debussy – Estampes; Photographs E-book II; Préludes E-book I  X
Bartók – Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs, Op.20 No.7

Sunday was an absolute pleasure for me and plenty of others at Wigmore Corridor as we marvelled on the means Jean-Efflam Bavouzet conjured the magic of Debussy on the piano. The corridor was crammed to the brim that evening, bursting with chatter—and, sadly, dotted with extra well mannered coughs than was socially vital—making a stark distinction to the darkish and empty Marylebone streets on a cold night.

The effervescent Frenchman strode in, by means of overture gave a quick and humorous speech concerning the slight change within the order of the programme, sat down and…unfold a D flat main chord? The casualness with which he opened the live performance caught me without warning, however this manner of ‘warming up’ was on no account out of character with the type he delivered to the opener of the newly amended programme: Fauré’s Nocturne No.6 in D flat main. Studying from the rating, of which he turned the pages himself whereas enjoying, Bavouzet gave us a glimpse of the opportunity of contemporary views on well-known items together with his interpretation of the nocturne; his rubato, during which the bass notice is barely out of sync with the melodic line, reminds one of many enjoying by the twentieth-century greats comparable to Arthur Friedheim and Alfred Cortot. His nocturne was something however calming; it was full of colors and sudden contrasts, performed with an improvisatory feeling. Fauré’s nocturnes are very a lot completely different from Chopin’s, the place the bel canto soprano voice dominates the area of the melody; Fauré’s melodies are in every single place, from the highest register of the keyboard to the underside octaves, and Bavouzet clearly confirmed all that, enjoying with an excellent licence of freedom however not and not using a sense of the place the music was heading.

Pagodes from Debussy’s Estampes adopted instantly and, identical to its predecessor, was imbibed with an extroverted vitality reasonably than a placid, calming one usually encountered in Debussy enjoying. I discovered Bavouzet’s enjoying to be daring reasonably than refined, but additionally full of many alternative layers. Listening to him, I considered a palette of assorted colors reasonably than many shades of the identical color. La soirée dans Grenade, the second piece within the set of three impressed by wood-block prints of Japanese artwork, was equally full of vivid and diverse colors, enhanced by the Yamaha which Bavouzet selected specifically for his recitals. I used to be entranced by the best way he was capable of juggle the numerous layers of sound concurrently; it was as if his enjoying unfolded vertically, revealing layer upon layer, even because the music progressed linearly via time. Bavouzet’s efficiency of Jardins sous la pluie, the ultimate piece of Estampes and the one one among the many three with a flavour of Frenchness, was crisp and clear, evoking the revolutionary aspect of Debussy in the best way he dealt with his themes. I discovered it attention-grabbing that whereas the enjoying was unsentimental, involved solely with the manufacturing of sound and a complete vary of it, it was nonetheless riveting and captured our full consideration. With a flourish, Bavouzet abruptly stood as much as take his first bow to resounding applause.

What adopted was a cocktail of three-parts Debussy and one-part Bartók: an unorthodox efficiency of Debussy’s Photographs E-book II, during which Bartók’s ‘Improvisation on Hungarian Peasant Songs’ was inserted between Cloches à travers les feuilles and Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut, the primary and second piece in Debussy’s suite. Bavouzet’s efficiency of Debussy’s Photographs, printed in 1907, confirmed a radically completely different aspect of Debussy in comparison with the writing in Estampes, printed solely 4 years earlier in 1903. The sense of mysteriousness and the ineffable pervaded Bavouzet’s efficiency of Cloches, a distinction to the intense colors he evinced in Estampes. I used to be struck by the best way Bavouzet managed to amass nice freedom within the immobile and calm Et la lune, even in probably the most fragile moments, including small splashes of color right here and there with out breaking the marginally pulsating ambiance he had rigorously created, commanding our consideration with some delicate pianissimos. I wasn’t so certain in regards to the interpolation of the Bartók Improvsations after Cloches, however having it precede Et la lune did spotlight among the Debussyan chords afterwards, making them extra poignant. Poissons d’or, the final piece of Debussy’s Photographs, requires a playfulness mixed with impeccable virtuosity, and Bavouzet was the proper particular person to ship that.

If there have been anybody who was nonetheless on the fence about Bavouzet’s inventive creativeness on the keyboard, the second half of Bavouzet’s recital, dominated totally by Debussy’s Préludes E-book I, would have satisfied them totally that his capability for creativeness is unmatched. This second half was full of moments the place I used to be on the sting of my seat, hoping for extra and infrequently dissatisfied {that a} sure Prélude needed to finish so quickly. Bavouzet was simply as entertaining a performer to look at as one to take heed to, and his on-stage theatrics of air-conducting in addition to bringing down his complete arm from an excellent peak complemented the music he was producing. What I significantly loved was the best way he confirmed a unusual aspect of Debussy that solely a performer of nice virtuosity and creativeness may disclose to his viewers. I virtually thought he was enjoying jazz in Les collines d’Anacapri, and when he carried out La danse de Puck, juggling many characters concurrently together with his ever-varying sound, I assumed I used to be watching a comedy unfold earlier than me. He may additionally go wild on the keyboard, producing colossal sounds, comparable to he did in Ce qu’a vu le vent de l’ouest and the well-known La cathédrale engloutie (me and my associates couldn’t get sufficient of the satisfying bass C he performed in that Prélude—merely ravishing!).

Pleasure and a way of freshness pervaded the whole lot of Jean-Efflam Bavouzet’s live performance; nor did his excessive spirits and vitality fade away after the ultimate Prélude, Minstrels, for he gave a pleasant encore of his instructor Pierre Sancan’s Mouvement, which was performed impeccably and with an excellent sense of humour.

An unforgettable recital by a pianist whose sound reveals a French lineage wealthy with historical past, but whose sound can also be distinctly his.

Jeremy Chan

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