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Andante third movement a step or so nearer to a Russian compatriot who rarely gets mentioned in the same breath as Prokofiev, namely Shostakovich. Prokofiev employs the restraining imperative visited on him (ie using the left hand only) by having his soloist respond, at times desperately, to an increasingly intense orchestral narrative, and the outcome is at times unbearably poignant. Here and elsewhere Bavouzet and his collaborators push for maximum pathos, although in an extremely interesting ‘performer’s note’ appended to the main booklet text, Bavouzet admits to finding the work hard to grasp and explains the nature of his epiphany (though I shan’t let on what it was). His mastery is as much in evidence for the even more combative Fifth Concerto, its bolshie opening Allegro con brio confrontational from the first bar (obdurately ‘difficult’ music, this, but enormous fun), the Moderato that follows, with its cheeky glissandos, pushing the challenges even further. There’s a brief Toccata where the opening theme is sent into a further spin, an alluring Larghetto with a searing climax (premonitions here of the great ballets and the Second String Quartet) and a finale that ends with an accelerating march. Throughout, Bavouzet displays a light touch and laudable levels of physical stamina, with a firm grasp of the very different personalities of each piece. Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic perform like soulmates for the duration, and with superb notes by the Prokofiev scholar David Nice as part of the deal, you can hardly go wrong.

March Editor’s Choices

CHOPIN Piano Concertos Ingrid Fliter pf Scottish Chamber Orchestra / Jun Märkl Linn F Í CKD455 ‘Fliter plays with such grace and heartfelt sincerity – abetted by some lovely duetting with the SCO’s bassoonist – that I was quickly won over.’

MOZART Piano Concertos Nos 20 and 25 Martha Argerich pf Orchestra Mozart / Claudio Abbado DG F 479 1033GH ‘Once again her microscopic alterations of touch make even the most mundane run of semiquavers dance and sing.’

R STRAUSS Orchestral Works Pittsburgh SO / Manfred Honeck Reference Recordings F Í FR707 ‘What make these performances so outstanding are Manfred Honeck’s interpretations, which vividly bring out the music’s emotional and pictorial detail.’

TELEMANN ‘Ouvertures à 8’ Ensemble Zefiro / Alfredo Bernardini Arcana F A371 ‘The much-vaunted lean muscularity of the Ensemble Zefiro performances favours the wind instruments and produces a freshly balanced sonority that alters our experience of these works.’

MILOŠ KARADAGLIĆ Guitar Works Miloš Karadaglić gtr London Philharmonic Orchestra / Yannick NézetSéguin DG F 481 0652DH ‘It’s in Rodrigo’s Invocación y danza that we find Karadaglić at his soloistic and, yes, elegant best.’

SCHMELZER ‘Sacro-Profanus’ Ensemble Masques / Olivier Fortin hpd Zig-Zag Territoires F ZZT334 ‘Their performances apply conversational sophistication to contrapuntal intricacy, nowhere more so than in the softly rapturous slow passages during Sonata IX.’


: T O M


Jean-Efflam Bavouzet in the studio


GRIEG Piano Works Ivana Gavrić pf Champs Hill F CHRCD067 ‘Everything glows with affection; and in the Lyric Pieces she casts a delectable impressionistic haze over pages which show Grieg at his most intimate and confiding.’

‘REMEMBER ME MY DEIR’ Jacobean Songs Fires of Love Delphian F DCD34129 ‘There’s wit as well as despair here, and when they overlap, as in the casual tragedy of “St Valentine’s Day”, the result is loaded with dramatic friction.’

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‘THE SACRED SPIRIT OF RUSSIA’ Choral Works Conspirare / Craig Hella Johnson Harmonia Mundi F Í HMU80 7526 ‘Everything is rooted in the bass and the forward brightness of the upper voices creates thrilling friction against their darker tones.’

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