Monday, May 22, 2017

Gabriel Pierné - Orchestral Works Vol. 1 (Jean-Efflam Bavouzet; Juanjo Mena)


Composer: Gabriel Pierné
  1. Marche des petits soldats de plomb, Op. 14 No. 6
  2. Piano Concerto in C minor, Op. 12: I. Allegro
  3. Piano Concerto in C minor, Op. 12: II. Scherzando. Allegro scherzando
  4. Piano Concerto in C minor, Op. 12: III. Finale. Allegro un poco agitato
  5. Divertissement sur un thème pastoral, Op. 49
  6. Ramuntcho, ballet suite No. 1: I. Ouverture
  7. Ramuntcho, ballet suite No. 1: II. Le Jardin de Gracieuse
  8. Ramuntcho, ballet suite No. 1: III. La chambre de Franchita
  9. Ramuntcho, ballet suite No. 1: IV. Fandango
  10. Ramuntcho, ballet suite No. 2: I. La Cidrerie
  11. Ramuntcho, ballet suite No. 2: II. Le Couvent
  12. Ramuntcho, ballet suite No. 2: III. Rapsodie Basque

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, piano (2-4)
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Juanjo Mena, conductor

Date: 2009
Label: Chandos



Orchestral charm and craftsmanship revealed in a fine Philharmonic recital

Following on from Laurent Wagschal’s recent disc of Pierné’s piano music (Timpani, 2/11, including the sombre and magnificent Variations, for Cortot a major contribution to French keyboard literature), Chandos now issues an orchestral recital of the highest quality, a reminder of charm and craftsmanship too long neglected. The Marche des petits soldats de plomb makes an enchantingly light-hearted curtain-raiser with its mischievous elfin fade-out, while the Divertissements sur un thème pastoral (a gift for the Orchestre Colonne) offers Juanjo Mena and the BBC Philharmonic an opportunity to perform one elegant and stylish variation after another with a thrilling brilliance and engagement. The two Ramuntcho Suites turn to Pierre Loti’s 1897 novel for inspiration. Set in the French Basque country, they are programme music par excellence, with much local colouring including a Fandango and Rapsodie Basque.

However, pride of place must surely go to the Piano Concerto, clearly inspired by Saint-Saëns’s Second Piano Concerto, though with a scintillating character of its own. Only a puritan could resist the second-movement Scherzando, where a jaunty theme is sent spinning through a maze of sparkling Christmas-tree elaboration. There is alternating grandeur and frivolity in the finale which Bavouzet (fresh from triumphs in his Bartók and Ravel concerto recordings) plays with an enthralling virtuosity. Here and elsewhere he makes it difficult to imagine a more bright-eyed and eloquent soloist, and his partners work with him hand-in-glove. For all those who delight in a wholly French grace and magic, this disc is a winner, and it is superbly recorded.

-- Bryce MorrisonGramophone

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine  PERFORMANCE: **** / SOUND: ****


Gabriel Pierné (16 August 1863 – 17 July 1937) was a French composer, conductor, and organist. He succeeded César Franck as organist at Saint Clotilde Basilica in Paris from 1890 to 1898. As a conductor, he conducted the world premiere of Igor Stravinsky's ballet The Firebird, at the Ballets Russes, Paris, on 25 June 1910. Pierné wrote several operas and choral and symphonic pieces, as well as a good deal of chamber music. His discovery and promotion of the work of Ernest Fanelli in 1912 led to a controversy over the origins of impressionist music.


Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (born 1962 in Lannion, France) is a French classical pianist. Grew up in Metz, he started his music studies there, encountering such luminaries as Iannis Xenakis, Olivier Messiaen, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez. Moving to the Conservatoire de Paris, he studied under Pierre Sancan, among others. He also had private lessons with Georg Solti. although never performed in public. His recordings for Chandos have received several Gramophone Awards, and numerous other awards, including the BBC Music Magazine Award, the Choc de la Musique and the Diapason d'Or.


Juanjo Mena (born 21 September 1965, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Basque Country, Spain) is a Spanish conductor. Mena attended the Madrid Royal Conservatory, where his teachers included Carmelo Bernaola (composition and orchestration) and Enrique García Asensio (conducting). He also studied conducting with Sergiu Celibidache in Munich. Mena was artistic director and principal conductor of the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra (1999-2008) and the ninth chief conductor of the BBC Philharmonic since 2011. He was also principal guest conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra from 2007 to 2013,


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