‘If we are accustomed to hearing Jean-Efflam Bavouzet on discs of Debussy, Ravel, and Haydn, here he makes a radical move from those intimate, refined worlds to the raw dynamism of Bartok's three piano concertos. In league with the finely honed BBC Philharmonic, these are performances vibrant in colour, vital in rhythm and detail and viscerally exciting in impact.' The Daily Telegraph
‘...These performances seemed immediately communicative; immediately right. Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic admirably second the sensitivity and strength of the soloist...' Fanfare
Following the tremendous success of his complete Debussy piano music edition which gained awards from both Gramophone and BBC Music - and the launch of his ambitious Haydn Piano Sonatas series - pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet now turns his attention to some of the mightiest concertos of the twentieth century. The three Bartok Piano Concertos on a single album are a rare find and played with Bavouzet's trademark personal touch and flair.
Bartok wrote his First Concerto, one of his most challenging works, in 1926. The percussive piano writing ads much bite to the textures. The first movement is striking in its rhythmic vigour and dramatic character. The central Andante is essentially a dialogue between the soloist and four percussion players and features much atmospheric ‘Night Music'. In the finale, following without a break, the brilliant motoric rhythms of the first movement return, as does the dramatic use of percussion in a thrilling melee of sound.
The Second Concerto was first performed in 1933. The music is more melodically appealing and in the first movement, which is notably contrapuntal, the strings are silent throughout. The hushed slow movement on strings is interrupted half way through by a brilliant and startling scherzo, with a striking sequence of tremolos and note-clusters, before the haunting quiet mood of the opening returns. The finale, again with brilliant use of percussion (as well as brass), ends the work in virtuoso fashion.
The Third Concerto was written at the end of the composer's life, in 1945, and is much more restrained than the previous piano concertos. The work is lighter, airy, and almost neo-classical compared to much of his earlier music. Unlike much of Bartok's output, the piece was not composed on commission, but was rather created as a surprise birthday gift for Bartok's second wife, Ditta Pasztory, who was, like Bartok, a skilled concert pianist. The two lively outer movements, full of the composer's distinctive rhythmic drive, are separated by a slow movement of great beauty and serenity, with, again, a striking, contrasting middle section. The final seventeen bars were orchestrated by the composer's pupil Tibor Serly (based on Bartok's notes), after the composer's death.