Khamma stems from a commission in 1910 for an Egyptian ballet, originally entitled Isis. The project was troubled from the start when Debussy refused to reduce the orchestra from 90 to 40 players. He never heard the work, which was first given its concert performance in 1924. Bavouzet writes, ‘I discovered almost by chance in a Parisian music store, a version for piano of Khamma. This had previously escaped me so what was my surprise when I saw the richness and originality! The virtuosity required is much more subtle than the more obvious. It must give the illusion of more perfect sound levels corresponding to each ……..
Here is a disc of purest piano-perfection. Having listened to it right through at one sitting, I can state that it has been one of the most perceptive, satisfying, seductive - indeed hypnotic - and rivetingly delightful discs of piano-playing I've encountered in a long time. Every one of these 18 miniature masterpieces emerges fresh, like finest jewels expertly sculpted. Not even the most familiar of them (like Arabesque 1, Cathedrale Engloutie, Fille aux Cheveux de Lin, Clair de Lune) fail to captivate and enchant the ear…….S. Mitchell @ Aamazon.com
"…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
The music now moves to a more playful strand in Debussy’s compositional career, with generally shorter pieces of the salon genre, including the two famous collections Children’s Corner and Suite bergamasque. In addition to these well-known works are several that are more rarely heard. Two such are La plus que lente, which seems to look ahead to the Études of 1915, and Élégie. Roger Nichols describes the former as ‘one of his most delightful pieces… the harmonic turns are particularly sophisticated and enchanting’. The Élégie was written in 1915 following the composer’s move …….
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet here presents his second volume of Debussy’s Complete Works for Piano, which reveals a more reflective, private period in Debussy’s compositional career. Debussy won the Prix de Rome in 1884 at the age of twenty-one and through it tasted institutional life for the first and last time. It was one of the most miserable periods in his life. Quite aside from having to leave his Parisian mistress, Debussy was never comfortable …..
This exciting new recording marks the debut on Chandos of the French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet with one of the summits of the piano repertoire: Debussy’s two books of Préludes, complemented by the only recently rediscovered and rarely recorded late prelude entitled Les soirs illuminés par l’ardeur du charbon……
This Pierian CD, advertised in the May 2012 Naxos catalog as an “also available” disc, is the label’s first issue from 2000 featuring the complete recordings of Debussy as pianist. All of his records were made in two sessions, a series of four short 78-rpm sides with soprano Mary Garden (his first Mélisande) at the Paris G&T studio in 1904 and 14 Welte-Mignon piano rolls recorded on November 11, 1913. Both are famous groups of recordings, restored and reissued over the decades, but this release is the best I’ve ever heard them.
Steven Osborne has already made a name for himself in French music with a disc of Alkan and a profoundly moving performance of Messiaen’s Vingt Regards. Here he reaches between those two to tackle one of the pinnacles of the piano repertoire—Debussy’s two books of Préludes. These works have been central to Steven’s repertoire for many years and he brings them to the studio after many public performances and much reflection. He has worked from the most up-to-date Urtext edition which clarifies Debussy’s thought in many places, particularly with regard to tempo relationships within La cathédrale engloutie and a missing bar in Les tierces alternées. In a crowded field Osborne need fear no comparisons: the pianism is exquisite and the interpretations are of a rare depth and subtlety—a recording to rival the very best!