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.
Liszt had a particular affection for the music of Schubert whom he considered to be “the most poetic musician who ever lived”. Ordered according to key relationships rather than the narrative content of the verse, his transcriptions of Schubert’s two great song cycles, Winterreise and Schwanengesang are outstanding examples of the genre and formed a popular part of his concert programmes during his years as a travelling virtuoso. Avan Yu, one of Canada’s most exciting pianists, won the Gold Medal at the Canadian Chopin Competition at the age of seventeen.
This four-CD set contains 112 performances by the Trio from 1938-1941, radio transcriptions made especially to be played on the air. The early trio is instantly recognizable and, although there is a greater reliance on group vocals and guest singers (including Bonnie Lake, Juanelda Carter, Pauline and Her Perils, and the Dreamers) rather than on Cole's solo vocals, the music is not all that different from what the King Cole Trio would be playing a few years later when they became much better known.