Ravel: Piano Trio; Violin Sonatas (1897 & 1923-7); Sonata for Violin & Cello

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Virgin
WORKS: Piano Trio; Violin Sonatas (1897 & 1923-7); Sonata for Violin & Cello
PERFORMER: Renaud Capuçon (violin), Gautier Capuçon (cello), Frank Braley (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45492 2
This is the first outing on disc for the combination of brothers Renaud and Gautier Capuçon and pianist Frank Braley, and makes for an auspicious debut. All play with enormous expansiveness and confidence, which carries them through most difficulties, but occasionally serves to paper over a slightly hazy sense of shape. An example is the slow third movement of Ravel’s Piano Trio. Here, mounting massiveness and a slow unwinding pose pacing challenges that I’m not sure the trio has solved. But elsewhere they score numerous successes. The Piano Trio’s opening movement has all the spectral bleakness one is used to associating with the piece, and the finale dances lightly but never flimsily to a triumphant conclusion. The early Violin Sonata is likewise convincing. Capuçon and Braley effectively convey the nagging undertow that tugs at the sunny surface of the first movement, then move on to a Blues that is comic and clownish, a welcome alternative to more strident and angst-ridden interpretations. The often overlooked one-movement posthumous Sonata is also here, played with charm and simplicity. The CD is rounded off with a tour de force – the Capuçon brothers performing Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Cello. The pair sound as if they have been playing this together all their lives (perhaps they have), and track each other with minute accuracy throughout a muscular, energising account. The Beaux Arts version of the Piano Trio is a reliable comparison, but Capuçon/Capuçon/Braley could be the team of the future. Christopher Wood