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Monday, May 22, 2017

Gabriel Pierné - Orchestral Works Vol. 2 (Juanjo Mena; Jean-Efflam Bavouzet)


Composer: Gabriel Pierné
  1. Paysages franciscains, Op. 43: I. Au jardin de Sainte Claire (Couvent de Saint Damien)
  2. Paysages franciscains, Op. 43: II. Les Olivaies de la plaine d'Assise (Crépuscule d'automne)
  3. Paysages franciscains, Op. 43: III. Sur la route de Poggio-Bustone (La Procession)
  4. Les Cathédrales (Prélude pour le poème dramatique de M. Eugène Moraud)
  5. Scherzo-Caprice, Op. 25 (Valse symphonique for piano and orchestra)
  6. Poème symphonique, Op. 37 (for piano and orchestra)
  7. Fantaisie-Ballet, Op. 6 (for piano and orchestra)
  8. Nocturne en forme de valse, Op. 40 No. 2
  9. Étude de concert, Op. 13

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, piano (5-9)
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra (1-7)
Juanjo Mena, conductor (1-7)

Date: 2015
Label: Chandos



At the heart of this disc lie three works that Gabriel Pierné (1863-1937) composed for piano and orchestra: the Scherzo-Caprice (1890), the Poème symphonique (1901) and the Fantaisie-Ballet (1886). Pierné was one of those composers whose importance in his own day was far greater than his posthumous reputation might suggest. He was a Prix de Rome winner, and in his youth he was more highly regarded even than his near-exact contemporary, Debussy. None of his works, however, has achieved anything like core repertoire status. Even these three piano and orchestra works, which are all short (eight, 11 and 13 minutes) and would work well in concert as foils to either of the Ravel concertos, have made no lasting impact.

Pierné was a piano virtuoso himself, a factor that colours the spirited writing of all three works. At the same time, his creative pedigree comes clearly to the fore. A little way into the Poème symphonique there is a particular hue to the harmony in a chorale-like passage that instantly conjures up images of César Franck, one of Pierné’s teachers and an inescapable influence on all younger French composers other than those who studiously avoided him. With that Franck connection in mind, the Scherzo-Caprice begins to recall the Symphonic Variations. Nor was Pierné oblivious to the music of Liszt, as is evident in the inflated pomp at the start of the Fantaisie-Ballet.

They all repay hearing, especially in these dynamic performances by Jean Efflam Bavouzet and the BBC Philharmonic, but perhaps even more interesting is the way Pierné’s creative stance shifted from gifted though fairly anonymous works towards more personal Impressionist tendencies in Paysages franciscains of 1919, a work that merits much wider attention.

-- Geoffrey NorrisGramophone

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


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.


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,


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.


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