Renaud Capuçon expands his wide-ranging concerto discography with Bartók’s two violin concertos. Composed almost three Decades apart, they are highly contrasted, inhabiting very different emotional and musical worlds. Partnering Capuçon is the London Symphony Orchestra under its Principal Guest Conductor, François-Xavier Roth.
Following his first solo concertos disc of Mendelssohn and Schumann, French violinist Renaud Capuçon chose a disc of Mozart's first and third concertos, as well as his imposing Sinfonia Concertante, with outstanding young violist Antoine Tamestit. All three works feature the Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducted by fellow Frenchman and Mozart expert Louis Langrée. Says Capuçon of Langrée (who has directed the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York since 2002): "Working with Louis Langrée is a particular privilege, his Mozart has honesty, purity and joie de vivre…grace, in fact." And of the SCO: "The players' finesse of articulation and their colors are drawn from chamber music…This simplicity of approach is essential for me." This intimate reading offers new insights into these familiar works, particularly during the grief-stricken slow movement of the Sinfonia Concertante, which finds all three musicians digging deep into the emotional core of the music.
Is this what Gallic Brahms sounds like? Well, violinist Renaud Capuçon is French-born and French-trained, and pianist Nicholas Angelich, while America-born, is French-trained, but does this make them French musicians rather than musicians who are French? Possibly: Capuçon has the lean, lyrical tone that has been the specialty of French violinists since Louis Capet and Angelich has the lush, lucid tone that has been the specialty of French pianists since Walter Gieseking.
With this two-disc set of the piano quartets, Nicholas Angelich proves conclusively that he is the best Brahms pianist of his generation. His previous Brahms recordings – a 2005 disc of the violin sonatas with Renaud Capuçon, a 2006 solo collection featuring the Paganini Variations, a 2007 solo collection of the late piano works, and a 2008 disc of the First Piano Concerto with Paavo Järvi leading the Frankfurt Radio Symphony – showed his skill in a variety of settings.