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Edouard LALO (1823-1892) Symphonie Espagnole Op. 21 [32:43] Pablo de SARASATE (1844-1908) Zigeunerwiesen [7:46] Max BRUCH (1838-1920) Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 26 [23:07]
Renaud Capuçon (violin)
Orchestre de Paris/Paavo Järvi
rec. Grand Salle, Philharmonie de Paris, 2015 ERATO 2564698276 [65:47]
These recording were made at the home of Orchestre de Paris, Philharmonie de Paris, which opened in early 2015. Renaud Capuçon gives us a generous programme: three contrasting romantic works show off his many qualities. His playing is very refined, thoughtful and immaculate, with hardly an ugly note to be heard. The tone is dark and quite husky in the lower register, which really suits the contemplative and romantic passages in the Lalo and the Bruch. The virtuoso quicksilver passages are played with tremendous clarity and perfect articulation.
Capuçon shares a birthday with Edouard Lalo; his performance of the Symphonie Espagnole, given here in its complete five-movement form, is extremely fine. Orchestra and soloist present the work as a serious piece, resisting the temptation of simply turning it into a virtuoso showpiece. The soloist’s playing in the second subject of the opening Allegro non troppo and the Andante is gorgeous, while the delicate, scampering passages in the Scherzando and the Rondo are played with tasteful virtuosity. Capuçon seems to me to get the balance just right. This is a marvellous work, and this recording is one of the best available.
Unlike the rather neglected Lalo, the Bruch Concerto is one of the repertoire’s most celebrated concertos. It is given a heartfelt and fresh sounding reading, with the central Adagio really singing out. There is a slight disagreement between soloist and conductor about the tempo at the opening of the Finale but that quickly passes. It is of little consequence in judging the performance as a very enjoyable whole. The rambling, tuneful Zigeunerweisen sits between the two main works on the CD. It allows the soloist to let his hair down in eight minutes of pure pleasure.
This is a really satisfying CD, and the soloist is well supported by the Orchestre de Paris conducted by Paavo Järvi. Capuçon is recorded with great clarity and presence. Just occasionally the forward placing masks the woodwind lines, but only marginally so. Recording is sweet but with a limited dynamic range. The soloists’s playing will appeal to those who look for refinement of tone and clean articulation first and foremost. Maybe some listeners will feel that there is something missing in terms of fire and aggression An example is the way the main theme of the first movement of the Bruch is presented in a rather laid-back fashion. It does not have the histrionic quality favoured by so many but that is not Capuçon’s way. His concentration throughout is all about making a beautiful, expressive sound and that, for me, is where he really scores. John Whitmore
Previous review: Michael Cookson