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CD: Crotchet

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Violin Concerto No. 1 in B flat major K207 (1775) [20:07]
Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major K216 (1775) [22:29]
Sinfonia Concertante in E flat major for violin, viola and orchestra K364 (1779) [29:56]
Renaud Capuçon (violin); Antoine Tamesitt (viola)
Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Louis Langrée
rec. 17-20 September 2007, Perth Concert Hall, Scotland.
VIRGIN CLASSICS 5021122 [72:56]
Experience Classicsonline

I’ve not been as enthusiastic an admirer of the Brothers Capuçon as some in the critical fraternity but this release by Renaud Capuçon is attractive. There have been some parlous recordings of K364 in recent times - the Vengerov/Power, for example, was a casualty of the former’s metrical eccentricities - but when musicians are attuned, expressively and tonally, then things can turn out well.

There is here none of the drooping insistence that marred that earlier recording. Instead we have a lithe modern instrument chamber sized performance led by a conductor - as Vengerov’s should have been - whose views are in close accord with the two soloists. The wind writing is pencilled in adeptly, the horn harmonies are not muddied, the lower strings articulate cleanly, and the Mannheim crescendo gathers unstoppable pace and here and there the two soloists - Antoine Tamesitt is the accomplished violist - play with well calibrated rubati. Once or twice - this is a matter of taste - I found those stretchy rubatos just a shade overdone but it’s a moot point as to whether you consider this mannered. The slow movement has a discreet expressivity; it’s not over emoted but its more tragic depths and implications are not entirely elided either, though things remain slightly on the cool side. I liked the way the urgent orchestral string staccati animate the finale and the way the soloists’s accents nudge the music still forward. Do I detect that Tamesitt locates something close to explicit desperation in the closing pages before the resurgent end? He certainly draws out some fluctuating emotional responses throughout in a way that makes one think.

The G major concerto is the principal companion, the earlier B flat major being a lesser work. The Third Concerto here receives a reading of interesting emphasis, especially orchestrally speaking, There are some trenchant unison orchestral attacks, and a strong bass line, though maybe that’s to do with mike placement; it could hardly be to do with numbers. In general I find the recording somewhat problematic for this reason. Capuçon is an elegant soloist, making no outsize gestures, though he does espouse the cadenzas of Robert Levin. That for the first movement overdoes the ‘pathetic’ element I think and the slow movement is too self consciously elliptical for my tastes. If it ain’t broke, gentlemen …

Still the soloist gives us some highly diverting leaps in the finale as well as pronounced dynamic variance in the central movement. Levin’s cadenzas in the First concerto are altogether less contentious. I genuinely like the aria-like pointing in the slow movement - Louis Langrée seemingly having something of a gift for subtly altering one’s perceptions without injuring the conception of a work. There’s some dashing and fast bowing in this concerto’s finale.

The band has a track record on disc with Mozart concertos, having partnered violinist Oscar Shumsky, and in K364 his son Eric.

These are enjoyable, thought-provoking performances, played with assurance and estimable ensemble virtues. Limitations are the recording and a generally on-the-cool-side approach.  
Jonathan Woolf

see also review by Kevin Sutton
(June 2009 Recording of the Month) 


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