The New York Times - Friday, July 20, 2018 - Written by Anthony Tommasini

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet

Last week, in advance of Jean-Efflam Bavouzet’s recital at the Kaye Playhouse, I wrote that this acclaimed French pianist’s playing is “so musical and elegant you sometimes don’t notice its brilliance.” Well, after his performance on Wednesday, part of the International Keyboard Festival and Institute, I may have to rethink my earlier assessment. His playing was almost defiantly brilliant, more exciting than elegant, especially in Schumann’s gnarly Sonata No. 3 in F minor, subtitled “Concerto Without Orchestra.” In this four-movement, 30-minute score, Schumann tries to channel his fantastical imagination into complex, contrapuntally intricate forms. Mr. Bavouzet tore through the piece with abandon, dispatching tangles of lines and chords with flinty power. In the second half he played three early Debussy works and seven of that composer’s late, enormously difficult Études. He has recorded Debussy’s complete piano works on a five-disc set released in 2012.


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