Chopin • Franck • Piazzolla
Chopin: Introduction and Polonaise Brillante in C; Cello Sonata; Franck: Cello Sonata; Piazzolla: Le Grand Tango
Gautier Capuçon (cello), Yuja Wang (piano)
Erato 9029539226 79:09 mins
Whether you prefer César Franck’s great Sonata in A played on the violin or cello may well depend on whether you are a cellist or not. Jules Delsart’s transcription was made with the composer’s blessing, and there is nothing inauthentic about it, yet somehow here the music sags in a manner that makes one long for the sunny uplands of the violin. While neither Gautier Capuçon nor Yuja Wang let their side down, the opening of their duo recital lacks the magic this masterpiece can evoke. Both play with poetry and warmth but can turn solid where coolly patrician tone is needed, and the air only really clears in time for the floating, sweet lyricism of the finale.
Both players – two of today’s outstanding virtuosos – are on better form in Chopin’s Cello Sonata, the composer’s last published work and one that gave him trouble. Both are alert to how it represents Chopin’s final thoughts on sonata form, and they seize the argument in the closely integrated first movement. Despite his uniquely pianistic outlook, Chopin’s blending of a string instrument with piano is unsurpassed in the repertoire, and the duo make the most of it. Chopin’s early Introduction and Polonaise brilliante (a finer piece than many think) calls for more weight in Capuçon’s warm tone and indeed both treat the polonaise rhythms a little glibly. Even if viewed as an encore, Le Grand Tango sounds tacked on: neither player is an obvious natural in Piazzolla and the music takes flight only in its dazzling final section.