One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,928 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Salon Treasures from the Max Jaffa Library



Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

July 2022

John Luther Adams Houses of the Wind
John Luther Adams
Houses of the Wind

Horneman Alladin
Horneman Alladin

Stojowski piano concertos
Piano Concertos 1 & 2

Vaughan Williams on Brass

Yi Lin Jiang - Dualis I

June 2022

Beethoven Sonatas 29, 32

Orchestral Works

String Quartets Vol 1




CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Complete works for solo piano - Volume 5
Jeux (1913) [16.56]
Khamma (1910) [19.37]
La Boîte à Joujoux (1913) [28.01]
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano)
rec. Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, 5-6 May 2009
CHANDOS CHAN10545 [64.47]

Experience Classicsonline

Even before my copy had dropped through my letterbox, reviews of this CD could be read all over the place - mostly laudatory ones too. So I waited several weeks before listening. In fact I am, like everyone else, very impressed. I’ll explain.

I suspect that Jean-Efflam Bavouzet had expected to record Debussy’s complete piano music in the four volumes, already very well reviewed (see below). The chance arrival of the piano score of ‘Khamma’ seems to have set him on the path of also tackling the other two ballets for a single disc. In fact Debussy always produced for the ballet pianist a usable rehearsal version. In the case of the score for ’Jeux’ Bavouzet remarks in his additional essay (there is also a general one by Roger Nichols) “A note from the artist” that Jeux was “genuinely unplayable by one pianist”. This was mainly due to the composer’s habit of adding, above and below the basic staves, extra flourishes and phrases as an aide-memoire for the later orchestration. A few years ago Bavouzet made a four-hand version of the ballet but for this recording had to manage the performance alone and without any ‘jiggery-pokery’ in the recording booth. The result was “one of the most difficult works I have ever played”.

On opening the booklet one espies a rare photo of Debussy with that marvellous and under-rated composer André Caplet who died young in 1925. Debussy wrote to Caplet that in composing this Diaghilev-commissioned ballet “I forgot the troubles of the world so as to write music that was almost joyous with the rhythm of gay gestures ... I am thinking of orchestral colour that seems back-lighted”. At first I heard the work in its orchestral guise then I heard Bavouzet. Make no mistake, in the piano version much is lost but Bavouzet has a way of almost reproducing orchestral colour, with his touch, pedalling and phrasing - a truly remarkable achievement. It must be remembered that ‘Jeux’ is actually called a ‘Poème dansé’ and the ‘plot’ if I can call it that, is a somewhat erotic ménage à trois concerning three tennis players, two females and a male who, in the search for a tennis ball, dance both separately and in various pairs, and as a three-some eventually resulting in a combined kiss. This precedes the surprising arrival of a second tennis ball just before the music evaporates. Sadly for Debussy and Nijinsky whose ‘vulgar’ choreography Debussy failed to enjoy, ‘Le Sacre du Printemps’ hit the world just two weeks later and Debussy’s score was forgotten for fifty years.

Oddly enough ‘Khamma’ is also a ballet about a girl who dances herself to death. This time the ballet is set in ancient Egypt involving propitiation for the ‘sins’ of a besieged city. The music which represents Debussy at his most experimental consists of four scenes and a series of three internal dances the whole woven together with stylistic consistency. The composer only orchestrated the first three or four minutes. There was much confusion and argument about the orchestration and contractual details. Charles Koechlin orchestrated the rest after Debussy’s death. The first concert performance of the orchestral version - which I have not heard myself - took place in 1924. The piano version is remarkable in the orchestral effects which can so readily be heard. The trumpets near the beginning are, for example, particularly striking. I would like to hear what little Debussy did orchestrate.

It may be odd to think of Debussy as having been influenced by Stravinsky but the fact is that the plot of the ballet ‘La Boîte à Joujoux’ is not unlike that of ‘Petrushka’. Cardboard characters act out a love tragedy instead of circus dolls. In addition ‘La Boîte’ like ‘Khamma’ has a major role for the piano although, again, Debussy never completed it. André Caplet did that, and quite brilliantly too.

In fairness to produce a new ballet in 1913 on the eve of the Great War and just a few months after ‘Le Sacre’ was probably doomed. We should be grateful that Debussy was much inspired here by the games and toys of his seven year-old daughter ChouChou. Why not, after all the work is subtitled ‘Ballet pour enfants’. One way in which Debussy creates this atmosphere is by quoting children’s songs, especially in the final tableau. These songs include ‘Pop goes the weasel’; indeed you could have much fun playing ‘spot that tune’, what with Mendelssohn’s Wedding March and Debussy’s own ‘Danse Nègre’. Towards the end did I not also spot a quote from part two of ‘Le Sacre’?

We should be delighted that Debussy found the energy and patience to stick with the task of completing the ballet. It is great fun to listen to either version. However, as a stand-alone piano piece I am not so sure. Whereas ‘Khamma’ is integrated and almost symphonic in construction ‘La Boîte’ because of the nature of its material is a bit more fragmentary and programmatic. In addition the characters are individualised musically. For example the soldier can obviously be represented by a trumpet and a fanfare has been written for him. There is an enigmatic toy-waltz for the doll and a curious figure in seconds (Petrushka again) for Punchinello.

My only criticism is that Chandos should have given the first tableau its own track instead of linking it to the Introduction. Otherwise this is a marvellous disc and the climax in so many ways of Bavouzet’s complete Debussy cycle.

Gary Higginson 

Reviews of previous volumes in this series
Volume 1 CHAN10421
Volume 2 CHAN10443
Volume 3 CHAN10467



Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.