Renaud Capuçon performs Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1

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COMPOSERS: Edouard Lalo,Max Bruch,Pablo Sarasate
ALBUM TITLE: Bruch • Lalo • Sarasate
WORKS: Bruch: Violin Concerto No. 1; Lalo: Symphonie espagnole; Sarasate: Zigeunerweisen
PERFORMER: Renaud Capuçon (violin); Orchestre de Paris/Paavo Järvi
CATALOGUE NO: Erato 2564698276


The orchestral opening of the Lalo comes as quite a shock, with heavy reverberation blurring detail, and leaving the final chord hanging over into Renaud Capuçon’s entry. It makes it quite difficult at times to judge the performance, although, when the music is quiet and less heavily scored, the sound is better balanced, and still warm. Those who have experienced the new Philharmonie de Paris concert hall in the flesh report much the same, and that it may need time to settle. A pity, as Capuçon gives a committed reading, and isn’t afraid to dig into the strings when it’s apt. There’s virtuosity in the faster movements and a real sense of the Spanish rhythmic character of the music in the subtle rubato of movements like the Intermezzo and Andante.

There’s a similar engagement with idiom in the Sarasate, where Capuçon’s feel for the flow of the music gives space to the opening slow sections, and Järvi and the orchestra provide eagle-eared support. And the final Allegro may not quite erase memories of Heifetz, but it’s an exciting romp. In the Bruch, there’s just the right amount of flexibility in the opening cadenza-like passages, and the more sustained orchestral writing, even at the climaxes, doesn’t ring round as it did in the Lalo. The famous slow movement could have even more ebb and flow, but Capuçon’s tone is burnished and varied. In the finale though, the music often seems unsettled in tempo, and loses its sense of rhythmic propulsion. Rather a mixed bag.


Martin Cotton