Jean-Efflam Bavouzet

Debussy: Complete Works for Piano, Vol. 4

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Jean-Efflam Bavouzet's four-disc survey of Debussy's complete piano music may well be among the finest ever recorded, fit to stand with Gieseking and Rogé. Here in the fourth and final volume, Bavouzet completes his survey with both series of Images and both books of Études. The former are among the French Impressionist's most richly evocative works while the latter are among the French proto-Modernist's most recklessly virtuosic works, and Bavouzet gives every work the performance it deserves. In the Images, his nuanced tone, blended sonorities, and intense intimacy reach to the music's expressive heart. In the Études, his clear tone, brazen sonorities and astounding technique find the music's intellectual core. But whatever the music, Bavouzet is always himself. Just to take two small examples, the way he treats the accents in "Mouvement" from the First Series of Images and in the Pour les 'cinq doigts' from Book 1 of the Études is wholly his own, the former closer to détaché than staccato, the later closer to staccato than sforzando. And yet Bavouzet is always faithful to the music. No matter how fresh and natural his interpretation, his fidelity to the score is absolute. Recorded in crystalline and atmospheric digital sound, this disc concludes a series that every Debussy aficionado should pay close attention to.

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