26 September 2012
In the years since he last appeared in Pianist, French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet's career has taken off. He talks about practising the piano straight after concerts, playing Debussy and Liszt, and the repeat signs in Beethoven and Haydn sonatas.
Not many pianists would want to launch into a practice session immediately after giving a major recital, but then not many pianists are like Jean-Efflam Bavouzet. When I meet up with the French pianist in late May, he’s in an ebullient mood, having just finished a post-concert practice session only hours after his lunchtime concert at Wigmore Hall. ‘I love to practise after concerts!’ he exclaims as we sit down at a table in the Bechstein Room, which is directly underneath the Wigmore main stage with the piano he’s just been putting through its paces. ‘What are we working for as performers? We are working to present a piece in concert situation. But concert situation is achievable only when you are on stage with the public. Despite the fact that you may do hundreds of concerts a year, it's still something different. It’s not the same as practising at all. Anything can happen during a concert.
As I always say, the quality of the playing in your concert depends on the quality of your practice before. You focus much more potentially on what can go wrong in concert situations because you just have been! And what I love the best is practising on stage after a concert.’
As it happened, tonight’s performers were delayed, so Bavouzet had that famous stage all to himself. ‘Most of the time when you play with an orchestra, you do the dress rehearsal in the morning and there is no concert in the afternoon, so you have the afternoon for yourself alone. That’s one of the moments I love, having the concert hall for myself alone.’
When I interviewed him for Pianist No 39 in 2007, he was on the cusp of a career that is now very much established. In the past few years, Bavouzet has been like an unstoppable Olympian champion, stepping up to the podium again and again for yet another gold medal. Among other accolades are two Gramophone awards and two BBC Music Magazine awards – the most recent in April 2012 for his Ravel/Debussy/Massenet disc. More recently, the first volume of his Beethoven sonata series has drawn breathless praise (the Financial Times’ Andrew Clark described it as ‘one of the biggest discoveries I have come across in years’). And in Pianist 66, that same Beethoven volume received Editor’s Choice. Cont... (by Inge Kjemtrup)
Tempted to read the whole article? Get your hands on the issue! And on our the Covermount CD, you can hear Jean-Efflam Bavouzet play two bonus tracks!