Three 20th-century orchestral scores, Bartók’s Two Pictures, Debussy’s Jeux and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, all dating from 1910-13 and all linked (as the detailed CD booklet explains), are brought to life in the hands of two exceptional French pianists. The central interest is the ballet Jeux. One of the world’s outstanding Debussy interpreters, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet has added to his complete Chandos recordings with his own transcription for two pianos. Written late in Debussy’s life for Nijinsky, Jeux involves an emotionally erotic and harmonically daring game of tennis. Bavouzet and his well-matched partner, François-Fréderic Guy, play with nimble grace, capturing the works wit and mystery. This gripping album is dedicated to Pierre Boulez, guru and enabler, for his 90th birthday.
Florentine composer Castelnuovo‐Tedesco contributed a vast array of music to the guitar literature, and this engaging release celebrates his output for two guitars, drawing focus to what is perhaps the repertoire’s most awe‐inspiring collection: the cycle of 24 preludes and fugues known as Les guitares bien tempérées. The unique nature of this work lies in the composer’s great ability to use ‘raw’ materials, polishing them with an almost unparalleled skill to create small, perfect and autonomous scenes that draw on light and extremely effective use of counterpoint; appending them is the Fuga elegiaca, a work that functions as the perfect conclusion on account of its original key of G minor, the same key in which the series opens.