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Crotchet   ArkivMusic

Inventions - Duos for violin and cello 
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Twenty Duets for violin and cello (transcribed Frederick Neumann) (extracts)
Invention No.2 in F major BWV 77 [0:56]
Aria (Suite Française No.2 in C minor BWV 813 [2:38]
Prélude in D major (Well Tempered Clavier, I, 5) [1:31]
Menuet (Suite Française No.2 in C minor BWV 813 [1:22]
Gavotte (Suite Anglaise No.3 in G minor BWV 808 [3:20]
Gigue (Suite Anglaise No.2 in A minor BWV 807 [2:31]
Invention No.13 in A minor BWV 784 [1:11]
Hanns EISLER (1898-1962)
Duet for violin and cello Op.7 No.1 (1924)
Tempo di minuetto [3:52]
Allegretto vivace [3:02]
Karol BEFFA (b.1973)
Masques I (modéré) [9:52]
Masques II (rythmiquement souple) [12 :57]
Béla BARTOK (1881-1945)     
Mélodies populaires hongroises (transcribed Karl Kraeuter) [6:14] (Allegro ironico; Allegretto; Moderato; Choral: Andante; Allegretto; Con moto; Vivace)
Gideon KLEIN (1919-1945)
Duet for violin and cello (1939)
Allegro con fuoco [6:03]
Lento (unfinished) [2:37]
Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1891-1959)
Duo  for violin and cello No.2 H.371 (1958) [10:06]
Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)
Marche miniature viennoise (tempo di marcia) [3:19]*
Renaud Capuçon (violin)
Gautier Capuçon (cello)
Aude Capuçon (piano) *
Rec. IRCAM, Paris, March 2005
VIRGIN CLASSICS 332626 2 [72:58]

The Brothers Capuçon undertake their responsibilities here aided in the final track by their sister Aude. The programme wears a curious look, opening with Bach transcriptions and  including the two Beffa Masques of which they are the dedicatees. Bartók is more canonic, though here in the form of transcriptions by Karl Kraeuter. Klein’s Duo is not well known though it has been recorded by Daniel Hope and Paul Watkins on Nimbus [NI 5702]. The Martinů is by now relatively well encountered and companionable recordings have been made of it over the years.
So the mix is certainly interesting. The nineteenth century Bach transcriptions had me in two minds. I wasn’t sure whether Renaud Capuçon in particular was trying to emulate supposed late nineteenth centurty performance style in his sparing use of vibrato or making concessions to historically informed practice. I presume the former, which would be far more pertinent than the latter, given the sense of historical continuum involved in adapting these works for a string duo. It works relatively well and given that they only take on seven of the twenty ennui has no chance to set in. The Inventions, which open and close the selection, are buoyant but the Aria disturbed me with its tonal paucity.
Eisler’s mildly disagreeable Duo dates from 1924. Its slithery wit touches expected expressionist points and this provokes both players to up their vibrato usage to a silvery intensity. Bartók’s Mélodies populaires hongroises, to give them their French translation, emerge well via Kraeuter’s intercession. The two players match robustness with rusticity; the high point is the warmth of the Choral which is adeptly and not too passionately done. Klein’s Duo is unfinished. Tbe first movement is intact and is highly Bergian in its profile, agitated as one would expect and unsettled. The second movement ends after two and a half minutes.
Martinů’s Duo dates from the year before his death. Cast in three movements this is a work that cries out for tactile rhythmic assurance. I can’t help feeling a lack of engagement with the Czech rhythms here. The French duo certainly dig in but they just don’t get airborne. And their collective sonority is too brittle to do the work real justice. Contrast them with the classic Suk-Navarra on Supraphon to hear what’s missing – a natural sense of the flow and space of the melodies and a deep commitment, especially on Suk’s part, to expressive depth.
It’s good to hear the two Beffa Masques which are traditional sounding works. The First is romantic and explores the cell theme with almost obsessive detail. Its second half is a correspondingly slower setion. The second Masque is a basso ostinato, cleverly constructed but overlong. The Kreisler trio encore is rather unecessary and I wish the duo had stuck to their guns and given us an all violin-cello disc.
No complaints about the recorded sound at IRCAM nor concerning the booklet documentation. The disc itself though, I found, was only intermittently effective.
Jonathan Woolf


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