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Edouard LALO (1823-1892) Symphonie espagnole in D minor, Op. 21 (1874) [32.43] Pablo DE SARASATE (1844-1908) Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20 (1878) [7.46] Max BRUCH (1838-1920) Violin Concerto No. 1
in G minor, Op. 26 (1866, rev. 1867) [23.07]
Renaud Capuçon (violin)
Orchestre de Paris/Paavo Järvi
rec. 25, 27 May 2015 (Bruch), 1-2 September 2015 (Lalo, Sarasate) Grand
Salle, Philharmonie de Paris, France WARNER ERATO 2564 698276 [65.47]
French violinist Renaud Capuçon writes in the accompanying booklet that
these scores composed between 1868 and 1878 rank amongst the most celebrated
in the history of violin and orchestra. Capuçon has a close connection
to this music. He was aged twelve when he first encountered them studying
with Veda Reynolds.
Lalo, a contemporary of Schumann and Brahms, was widely admired in his
day. The Symphonie espagnole, really a five movement suite,
is now his most recorded and performed work by some distance. As the
majority of recordings are not new, I sense that Lalo has become rather
unfashionable. In fact I can’t recall when I last saw a Lalo composition
programmed in a UK concert or recital. Then in his fifties Lalo’s friendship
with Sarasate clearly fired him to write a work to match the Basque
violinist’s extraordinary facility. An off-putting aspect in the opening
movement is the rather brash orchestral fanfare, an outburst which is
soon repeated. After this gaudy outpouring I feel able to enjoy Lalo’s
extremely summery and appealing writing. It has about it something of
a reverie imbued with a robust Iberian tang. Using seguidilla dance
rhythms the Scherzando can easily evoke life in a Spanish village.
With memorable rhythms, the colourful Intermezzo complete with
habanera is evidently of Moorish origin. Achingly tender and reflective
the Andante has an undertow of melancholy. The bravura Finale
is one of unalloyed joy with its fair share of heartbreaking melodies.
Dazzling and engaging throughout the eloquent Capuçon makes a persuasive
case for rehabilitating this score into the standard repertoire.
Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Tunes/Airs) remains one of the
Pamplona-born Sarasate’s best known compositions. Written in 1878 in
a single movement divided into four distinct sections the virtuoso violinist/composer
employs, as the titles suggests, Roma themes which he probably heard
during a Hungarian tour in 1877. In this dark, impetuous and passionate
score Capuçon revels in the virtuosic writing and captures its rapturous
One of the most admired of all classical works Bruch’s Violin Concerto
No. 1 was for several years winner of the Classic FM Hall of Fame.
It is surprising that Capuçon hasn’t recorded it before now. The main
drawback of selecting this work is that the competition in the catalogues
is extremely fierce. It has been recorded by virtually every violinist
worth his or her salt, often becoming a benchmark by which performers
are judged. Completed in 1866 and revised in 1867 Bruch dedicated the
score to the Hungarian Joseph Joachim who went on to première the revised
version in 1868. Eclipsed by tremendous popularity it is often forgotten
that Bruch actually wrote two other fine violin concertos as well as
many other splendid scores for violin and orchestra. Capuçon’s interpretation
is persuasive and highly poetic and his lyrical aria-like approach feels
ideal. In the opening movement he does not over-emphasize the Jewish-sounding
melodies in the way that some other performers tend to do. Admirable
is the way Capuçon relishes the long melodic line with buoyant playing
that is both engrossing and committed. In the beautiful Adagio
Capuçon’s sensitivity is infused with tenderness and no small degree
of introspection. He is not afraid to slow right down (points 6.40-7.32)
and his engagement reaches a deep level of expression that can make
the hairs stand up on the back of the neck. There is an agreeable ebullience
to the playing of the Finale as he navigates a wide range of
emotions with great assurance. He has the full measure of the music’s
From the large number of recommendable recordings of the Bruch I have
narrowed down my preferences to two. The first is played by Jaime Laredo
who also directs the Scottish Chamber Orchestra on IMP Classics. Laredo’s
special account is warm and extremely characterful - full of joy and
spontaneity. Also admirable is the convincing and highly poetic live
account by Janine
Jansen with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Riccardo Chailly.
This was recorded by Decca in 2006 at the Gewandhaus, Leipzig.
On the present recording Capuçon plays his Guarneri del Gesù ‘Panette’
(1737) and brings to these performances real panache and a persuasive
sense of maturity. An account that is certainly right up there with
the finest, I wouldn’t be disappointed if this was the only recording
of the Bruch in my collection.
Throughout the programme under the orchestra provides polished playing
entirely sympathetic to the needs of the soloist. The sound team has
excelled providing crystal clear sound together with a satisfying balance
between violin soloist and orchestra.
On Erato this is a most beautiful release of Romantic music compellingly
played. It will undoubtedly have broad appeal.