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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Stravinsky, Concerto for Piano and Wind Orchestra, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Sao Paulo Orchestra, Yan Pascal Tortelier

Igor Stravinsky has been gone from us since 1971. In the overall scheme of things that doesn't seem that long ago. Measured by our own lives, it is some time. But measured by the history of music it was only yesterday. His music still sounds as masterful as ever.

You can hear that especially in the new recording of Stravinsky's works for piano and orchestra, as played rather spectacularly by pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet and the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra under Yan Pascal Tortelier. What's especially nice about Concerto for Piano and Wind Orchestra, etc. (Chandos CHSA 5147) is that as a SA-CD it can be played on a conventional CD player for great sound, or as a multi-channel playback on an SA capable player. The other very nice thing is that it brings together pretty much all the music of note by Stravinsky for piano and orchestra.

So we get the "Concerto for Piano and Wind Orchestra" (1923-24) in its 1950 revision, the "Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra" (1928-29) in its 1949 revision, the 12-tone "Movements for Piano and Orchestra" (1958-59), and "Petrouchka" (1910-11) in its 1946 revision. "Petrouchka" is not a concerto per se of course but it has an important piano part. And so we have some of Stravinsky's best works from a wide period and pretty much covering all his stylistic shifts. Moreover they are masterpieces, each and all.

Bavouzet gives us definitive readings, playing with great spirit and zest. The Sao Paulo Orchestra under Tortelier respond with exacting precision and interpretive fire. It's as if the time between Stravinsky's 1971 departure and now has allowed us all to assimilate his complexities and take them on as "our own" music. Bavouzet, Tortelier and the Sao Paulistas play this music with the surety of absolute comprehension and ease. This is the music of our time now. Just as Beethoven was more or less fully assimilated into the musical stream 50 years after he was gone, our time has done the same for Stravinsky.

That feeling is energized by the superlative quality of these performances. It is surely a blockbuster album. Superb!

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