Notes and Editorial Reviews
R E V I E W S:
An unusual but attractive coupling of two concertos composed in America
Gautier Capuçon would be in danger of being typecast as just “one of the Capuçon brothers” (whose recording of Brahms’s Double Concerto last year was so fascinating) if he weren’t so darn good. Happily, the solo projects keep coming alongside the sibling acts: the result here is a dazzling Dvorák Concerto with a little-known and most entertaining coupling.
-- Gramophone [4/2009]
As opposed to Nelsova and Susskind’s no-nonsense performance of the Dvo?ák Concerto, this one exaggerates in
all directions. Capuçon is luxuriating in the field of poppies; Järvi has to be in Emerald City by lunch. Tempos keep jumping back and forth, from too slow to too fast. The Andante tranquillo is 20 percent slower in Frankfurt, and the concerto runs almost six minutes longer than in St. Louis. Although its solo horn is suitably mellow, the Frankfurt orchestra’s woodwinds are not as soft and cool as those in St. Louis; the German oboe in particular would win no friends in Prague. This 2008 recording from the Alte Oper Frankfurt is rich and colorful, with a hazy, romantic aura just right for these plush concertos. The final call is that some beautiful moments are embedded in an inconsistent performance.
In Victor Herbert’s fine Second Concerto, Capuçon displays all the energy and pizzazz missing from his Dvo?ák. In addition, he and Järvi are now on the same page. Although Yo-Yo Ma plays beautifully and Kurt Masur’s New York Philharmonic is superior to the Frankfurt forces, I prefer the outgoing spontaneity of this performance to that tidier but prim and proper one. Virgin’s wide-open recorded sound is also preferable to Sony’s cautious rendering of the 1995 New York live performance. Now that we have left Prague, the German wind instruments sound just fine. This is the most successful presentation of the Herbert that I have heard, and it raises my opinion of the piece and its composer. Lynn Harrell’s performance with Neville Marriner is a distant third, but his Decca/London disc includes the only available recording of Herbert’s First Concerto, a less interesting piece.
In true EMI fashion, Virgin’s notes do not mention even the name of the artists; one would think that more than a decade of collapsing sales might have prompted a change in marketing strategy. Gautier Capuçon is a young French cellist (27 when these recordings were made) who attended master classes with Heinrich Schiff and has won the usual bouquet of awards. He plays a Matteo Gofriller instrument, and has a rapidly expanding career both with orchestras and in chamber music. Capuçon has made about a dozen CDs for Virgin Classics, including the Haydn Cello Concertos.
Enthusiastically recommended, despite the Dvo?ák.
FANFARE: James H. North
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