Stravinsky

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Stravinsky
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Concerto for piano and wind orchestra; Capriccio; Movements; Petrushka
PERFORMER: Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano); São Paulo Symphony Orchestra/ Yan Pascal Tortelier
CATALOGUE NO: CHSA 5147 (hybrid CD/SACD)

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The piano was central to Stravinsky’s creativity. Moreover, whereas a composer like Ravel made the piano sound like an orchestra, Stravinsky delighted in the instrument’s percussive nature and let it infuse his orchestration. As such, a disc bringing together the three concertante works is an enticing prospect, especially with Jean-Efflam Bavouzet as the incisive soloist.

He captures the spirit of these disparate works, punching through the texture in the outer movements of the Concerto, wryly dispatching the mischievous escapades of the Capriccio and savouring the fragmented textures of Movements. The São Paulo Symphony Orchestra under Yan Pascal Tortelier proves a remarkably deft partner, matching so that the numerous accents, twists and turns of the music occur as if the orchestra were an extension of Bavouzet’s piano. The processional aspects of the slow movements are well-controlled, while the more angular lines of Movements have a marvellous playful quality.

With such fine playing, it would be churlish to quibble about what is essentially the disc’s filler, except that the ballet Petrushka is not the usual makeweight. Given Stravinsky originally conceived it as a duel between piano and orchestra, it fits the programme, with a significant role for the pianist. Bavouzet zips through his passages and there are sizzling string textures and colourful wind playing. And yet, key moments, such as the flute solo before the puppets’ appearance or Petrushka’s fight with the Blackamoor, are lacking in character. Nonetheless, there is much to admire and these pieces work well together.

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Christopher Dingle