Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Renaud Capuçon

Renaud Capuçon is hardly a household name, even among lovers of violin playing, yet whatever he does is pretty well always of the highest quality and stands up to all and any comparisons with other modern violinists. At 42 years old, Capuçon is hardly a wunderkind, nor is he an attractive young woman; a lot of publicity therefore passes him by. Like the late Arthur Grumiaux (with whom he has much in common) he is a versatile musician and often heard at his very best in chamber music and duo sonatas, often in the company of his brother Gautier (cello), Frank Braley (piano) and Gérard Caussé (viola). Renaud Capuçon and his distinguished friends always seem to me to be making real chamber music: friends playing together and enjoying the music.

I like his recording of he two Brahms string sextets, and of the two Schubert piano trios, and of Schubert's Trout Quintet, and of the three Brahms piano trios (with Nicholas Angelich). Capuçon has recorded most things (though I cannot find him in my collection playing Mozart, Paganini, or Bach). His Beethoven and Brahms concertos are very fine, as is his Brahms double concerto (with Gautier). I also admire his set of the complete Beethoven violin and piano sonatas (with Frank Braley). The two Brahms string sextets were recorded live, and here the clarity of the ensemble, the fine balance, and the atmosphere of six friends playing together, makes this Brahms to live with. There are other violinists at the same level as Capuçon — James Ehnes, for example — but Renaud Capuçon always has that special “Arthur Grumiaux” edge to his playing. And like Grumiaux (and Adolf Busch) he really excels in chamber music.

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