Notes and Editorial Reviews
Piano Trio. Violin Sonata. Sonata for Violin and Cello. Violin Sonata,
Renaud Capuçon (vn); Gautier Capuçon (vc); Frank Braley (pn)
VIRGIN 45492 (76:55)
The Capuçons, violinist Renaud and cellist Gautier, joined by pianist Frank Braley, enter into the gauzily shimmering, atmospheric world of Ravel?s Piano Trio in a sensitive performance that?s suggestively haunting in the first movement, effervescently bubbling in the second,
profoundly reflective in the third, and imposingly declamatory in the fourth. Marcel Marnat?s notes (translated into idiomatic English by Hugh Graham) describe the piano trio genre as a ?delicate? one; and the performances, perhaps because the members of the trio sink the individual for the good of the whole, could be taken as an ostensive definition of the adjective. The clean but somewhat low-level recorded sound underscores the spirit of the collaboration, never assigning undue prominence to any of the instruments. The ensemble may sound a bit distant, and perhaps for that reason a bit detached in the first three movements (as, for example, the Beaux Arts Trio, always vibrant, never did); but that sense of space hardly prevents their ferocious intensity from emerging temerariously in the finale.
Renaud Capuçon begins the first movement of Ravel?s Violin Sonata at a clip that promises to evaporate even the slightest exudations of moisture; but in the movement?s central section, he relaxes into a more reflective, if not more redolent, mood. And if he fails to duplicate the electrifying effect of Szigeti?s tremolos in the first movement, he plays the Blues more suggestively and with more insouciant wit?even though he strums the pizzicatos with more menacing aggressiveness?than in any performance I can recall. He takes the Perpetuum mobile at a daunting tempo but emerges unscathed and without having tempered the conclusion?s ecstasy. Still, the performance, as in the Trio, suggests reserve rather than ebullience. To hear what kind of voltage this work can generate, compare Szigeti?s recording, made when neither his technique nor his tone production no longer served him well, but he still had scintillating ideas about how this quizzical work should be played.
The Sonata for Violin and Cello, by comparison, sounds downright explosive, due not only to what seems to be its closer miking, but also to a more volatile, combustible approach by the Capuçons (not to mention the greater volatility and combustibility of the piece itself). Although in the slow third movement the partners settle into amiability, in the
that precedes it and, especially, in the rambunctious
Vif, en entrain
that follows, they fully convey the music?s character.
The rhapsodic one-movement ?Sonata posthume? from 1897 also explores more lyrical territory, and in their sensitive and richly romantic reading, neither violinist nor pianist seems the least bit detached.
The appearance of all these works on a single CD, in such well considered and generally atmospheric performances, should make Virgin?s release appeal to all sorts of collectors, including general ones?even if, as in the Violin Sonata or Trio more attractive individual readings might be found. Recommended.
FANFARE: Robert Maxham
Works on This Recording
Sonata for Violin and Cello by Maurice Ravel
Gautier Capuçon (Cello),
Renaud Capuçon (Violin)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1920-1922; France
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