"... these performances have carved a large niche among the many recordings of Debussy’s preludes. "Admirable masterpieces’ is Ravels’s description and Bavouzet treats them exquisitely. Nothing becomes a caricature, Monet-like colours bathe the ear produced with a depth of understanding which makes repeated listening joy. After three years of enjoying the very fine sounding CD ... It was interesting to compare the sound quality to the 24 bit download. Good as the CD sound is, the increased focus is immediately noctieable, and the very fine becomes superb. " *****
Peter Jelson - AudiophileAudition- October 2012
Choc de l’année 2007
Monde de la Musique Magazine
Review for the Debussy series CHAN 10421, 10467, 10443, 10497 & 10545
"...Debussy playing does not come any better than this, and anyone starting to collect this excellent Chandos series need not really look any further. The CDs are available separately each in turn was given a ’Gramophone Award..."
The Pengiun Guide – 1000 Greatest Classical Recordings 2011-12
There is an emotional directness about Bavouzet’s Debussy that is reminiscent of the great Samson Francois, tempered by a palette of glowing autumnal colours more in line with Gordon Fergus-Thompson’s outstanding series for ASV. Blessed with outstanding Ralph Couzens sound, this bodes well for future releases.
Classic FM Magazine
The French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet has already won plaudits for his Ravel on disc [not on Chandos] and here he launches a new complete cycle of Debussy’s piano works with an exceptionally fine recording of the two books of Préludes (plus a recently discovered Baudelaire-inspired envoi written for his coalman).There is a clarity about much of Bavouzet’s playing that both illuminates Debussy’s often complex textures and delineates the composer’s typical splashes of melody. But there is no shortage of hazy atmosphere when required and his Des par sur la niege is shot through with aching melancholy. At the same time his rhythmic acuteness gives pieces like La Sérénade interompue and La Puerto del vino a crisp momentum of their own, while the more Lisztian pieces – Ce qu’a vu vent d’ouest and Feux d’artifice, for example – are played with panache. With such absorbing playing and excellent sound, this disc augurs well for the rest of the cycle.
This generous first instalment of a projected complete cycle not only squeezes both books of Preludes onto a single disc, but also includes the recently discovered ‘Les soire illumines par l’ardeur du charbon’ as a welcome pendant. Jean-Efflam Bavouzet has a wonderfully light touch, imbuing ‘Les collines d’Ancapri’ with a skittish exuberance, or creating delicate wisps of mist in ‘Brouillards’ evoking Debussy’s advice to forget that the piano has hammers.
BBC Music Magazine
If asked to encapsulate Jean-Efflam Bavouzet’s highly anticipated Debussy Préludes in two words or less, I’d say ‘con amore’. Given the stunning excellence of his Ravel and Liszt releases [not on Chandos], it’s no surprise that Bavouzet commands all the shading, nuance and timbral sensitivity one expects in Debussy, together with virtuoso flair and characterful spontaneity that adds welcome backbone to the composer’s ‘hammerless’ aesthetic… Chandos provides excellent sound and scholarly, informative notes by Roger Nichols.
…the young French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet… his imaginative, accurate and beautiful playing honoured his impressive pedigree.
He plays these terribly difficult pieces… with an earthy tone and with a clear mind, brilliantly, elegantly, showing good taste and taking his chance to demonstrate discipline on the keyboard and readiness to take risks, even in musically and technically extreme situations.
Reviews of recent performances:
He gave the 12 independent universes of Debussy’s Book Two the same degree of violence, delicacy, humour, and poetry he had devoted to Book One.
San Diego Reader
The pianism is very French; bright, witty, mercurial, but still somehow touching – the way Poulenc might have played these pieces. I would never recommend any set of these that did not have a superb ‘Cathedral Engloutie’, and this one does.
American Record Guide
CD of the Week
"He must be one of the least-known contemporary French pianists in this country, but here he announces himself as a peerless Debussyite in the oft-recorded Préludes (Books 1 and 2) and, as an encore a piece discovered as recently as 2001… Bavouzet’s commend of touch, colour and rhythmic vitality are all that one could ask for in the Préludes, and he has a native feeling for the evocative atmosphere of these widely contrasting yet strangely unified pieces… This is essential Debussy, immaculately realised."
The Sunday Times - 29 July 2007
Absorbing playing from a French pianist with something new to say about these much-recorded piano masterpieces, and an interpretative range that calls upon clarity, haziness and Lisztian panache as appropriate.
Telegraph ‘CDs of the year’
He brings a rare combination of colourism, textural definition and rhythmic alacrity to Debussy’s 24 Préludes, conveying the character of each of them with a disarming ease that serves the music in an ideal way. He finds a perfect balance between thoughtfulness and spontaneity, is in command of a wide variety of touches and dynamics and is faithful both to the letter and intent of the musical text. Unlike some pianists he can make the difference between tenuto and portato audible without exaggeration and he seems mercifully uninterested in self-concious trickery with the middle pedal… In short, this is one of the finest accounts of the 24 Préludes that I know, surpassing in many ways the classic accounts by Gieseking, Paul Jacobs and more recently Jean-Yves Thibaudet
International Record Review
"What makes Bavouzet stand out is not only his fresh approach to tempo, but also his Classical way of drawing attention to the structural form of each prelude. His ‘Minstrels’ are humorous and light-footed, his blowing wind from the west tumultuous and the final firework catapults him to the stars"
Bavouzet is not yet as widely known as some, yet the quality of this disc suggests the discovery of a major talent in the Impressionist repertoire. Indeed, there is a conviction and authority to his playing that genuinely merits comparison with Gieseking and Michelangeli and that impresses with its natural ‘rightness’ – a quality of integrity and humanity and the strong feeling that the music is the outcome of spontaneous improvisation.