Saint-Georges • Vivaldi
Saint-Georges: Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 9; Vivaldi: The Four Seasons
Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne/Renaud Capuçon (violin)
Erato 5419718972 74:38 mins
A new recording of The Four Seasons needs something to stand out from the crowd. Historically-informed approaches often reveal new colours, with striking approaches to the continuo or the use of just one player per part alongside a broader trend towards biting articulation and attempts at breaking speed records.
While avoiding the more gimmicky extremes, there is no lack of character as soloist or conductor from Renaud Capuçon. He is unafraid to draw invigorating percussiveness from the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne in ‘Summer’, while pitches are sensed more than heard in depicting the icily monochrome opening of ‘Winter’. In general, Capuçon keeps things brisk, pushing through where others may take a little time, but still with plenty of opportunities to enjoy his crystalline tone.
Capuçon is boldest of all, though, in choosing as companion pieces two concertos by the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, the extraordinary black French violinist from the generation after Vivaldi. These galant style pieces are just as virtuosic as the Italian’s, but emphasising elegant joie-de-vivre more than drama. Capuçon is a wonderful advocate, clearly relishing their challenges. He even provides his own short cadenza to the slow movement of the G major Concerto, complete with a cheeky reference to the bird calls from Vivaldi’s ‘Summer’. It is a pity, then, that the Saint-Georges pieces are whitewashed from the LP release.