Classics have released a second recital disc from brothers
Renaud and Gautier Capuçon of duos for violin and cello. This
follows hot on the heels of their ‘Face à face’: a
collection of violin and cello duos by Kodály; Schulhoff;
Tanguy; Halvorsen and Ghys/Servais (Virgin Classics 5455862
or also 5455762). ‘Inventions’ takes its title from
Johann Sebastian Bach’s 2-Part Inventions but also
included are a number of fascinating and sometimes challenging
scores by six twentieth-century composers.
first scores on this release are seven of Frederick Neumann’s
arrangements of twenty of Bach’s keyboard scores as duos for
violin and cello taken from the Two-Part Inventions,
the first book of the Well-tempered Clavier, the French
Suites and English Suites. Renaud Capuçon and his
brother Gautier confidently sweep through these attractive
arrangements with an innate understanding, performing with
genuine affection, flair and dramatic energy.
composer Hanns Eisler composed his two movement Duo for
violin and cello in 1924 before exile in the USA. In the first
movement Renaud and Gautier adopt a robust tone with Eisler’s
bold contrasts ranging from biting attack to claustrophobic
airlessness. The second movement is given forthright and assertive
playing with several episodes of aggression.
French composer and pianist Karol Beffa was commissioned to
write his two Masques for cello and violin that he
dedicated to the two Capuçon brothers. With Masques I Renaud
and Gautier perform Beffa’s lengthy and languid melodic lines
with an interpretation where one is never certain if the music
is comforting or unsettling. In Masques II Renaud and
Gautier commence with calm and languid playing, in music that
they gradually strengthen in power and tension.
seven Mélodies populaires hongroises, in Karl Kraeuter’s
arrangement for violin and cello, are curious pieces. The
short duration of each piece allows only a brief glimpse of
the intended emotional character. I know nothing about the
origin of these seven pieces and unfortunately the annotation
gives virtually no information. In the hands of Renaud and
Gautier the pieces are especially vibrant and expressively
performed. The brothers’ performance of the Allegro ironico
is forcefully sharp and melodic, the Allegretto is
vivacious and dance-like, and the Moderato is given
a slow and thoughtful reading. The rhapsodic nature of the
Choral: Andante is strongly emphasised, allowing
the score to develop a sinister, martial character. The Allegretto
has a rather nondescript quality with playing from the
duo that borders on the folk-like. The vivacious, skipping
nature of the Con moto is highly impressive and the
Vivace is buoyantly performed.
The career of Czech composer Gideon Klein was cut tragically
short in his mid-twenties, leaving behind only twenty or so
scores. After enduring internment in Auschwitz, Klein died
in the Furstengrube concentration camp in Silesia in 1945.
The Duo for violin and cello is cast in two movements,
the second of which was left incomplete, seems to have been
composed between 1939 and 1941. The first movement Allegro
con fuoco, which is nearly three times as long
as the second, is played by Renaud and Gautier with impressive
energy and a frenetic activity of agitation and turmoil. In
the sinister and bleak second movement the partnership convey
a feeling of sheer desolation and anguish.
composed his Duo No. 2 for violin and cello,
in 1958, in Switzerland just over a year before his death.
A shortish score, classically designed in three movements,
the music is less aggressive in character than his first Duo
for violin and cello from thirty years earlier. Renaud
and Gautier communicate a hectically dramatic impetus in the
rapidly contrasting moods of the opening movement Allegretto.
Their interpretation of the extended melodic lines of the
central movement Adagio is yearning and reflective
and in the final movement Poco allegro the brothers
adopt a highly rhythmic and restless mood.
my collection I have an excellent alternative version of Martinů’s
Duo No. 2 from Angell Quartet members; violinist
Jan Peter Schmolck and cellist Richard May. Notable for its
energy, drive and enviable degree of unity it was recorded
in 1998 in Munich for Sanctuary Classics on their Resonance
The final work here is the Marche miniature
viennoise written by the celebrated violin virtuoso Fritz
Kreisler. Here Renaud and Gautier are joined by their sister
the pianist Aude Capuçon. They perform this short salon-weight
score and imbue it with the infectious quality of the Viennese
waltz. I believe that Renaud plays a 1721 Stradivarius that
was once owned by Fritz Kreisler but we are not told if he
is using that instrument here.
Recorded at IRCAM, Paris in 2005 the recorded sound is of a
high quality. The presentation of the disc would have been
enhanced by the inclusion of more comprehensive annotation.
With the exception of the Bach and Bartók transcriptions,
these absorbing and intriguing scores will not always make
comfortable listening, especially those from Eisler and Klein,
owing to their unsettling quality and emotional impact.
A fascinating and superbly performed recital from Renaud and
Gautier Capuçon on Virgin Classics
which is worthy of considerable attention.