Beethoven, Korngold: Violin Concertos

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven,Korngold
LABELS: Virgin Classics
WORKS: Violin Concertos
PERFORMER: Renaud Capuçon (violin); Rotterdam PO/Yannick Nézet-Séguin
CATALOGUE NO: 694 5890

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Renaud Capuçon approaches the Beethoven Concerto very much like the great virtuosos of the past through emphasising the work’s lyrical and expressive qualities.

Supported by a full-blooded orchestral accompaniment from the Rotterdam Philharmonic under Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the interpretation remains unashamedly Romantic, with some beautifully reflective playing in the G minor episode of the first movement and in the hushed stillness of the ensuing Larghetto.

Yet despite Capuçon’s richly garnished tone, the wonderfully ambient recording and a superbly voiced account of the Kreisler Cadenza, the performance tends to drag in places in the outer movements, and as a whole misses some of the freshness and spontaneity that make the recordings from Patricia Kopatchinskaja (Naïve) and Lisa Batiashvili (Sony) so invigorating and illuminating. 

In contrast Capuçon is at pains to generate a real sense of forward momentum in the first movement of the Korngold. The opening melody is phrased with great warmth and tenderness, though Capuçon doesn’t quite invest the material with the same degree of nostalgia and sense of loss as Nikolaj Znaider in his recent release for RCA.

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On the other hand, Nézet-Séguin creates a more vibrant and colourful orchestral backdrop than Gergiev and the Vienna Philharmonic for Znaider. In the ensuing two movements, however, there is little to choose between either performance, Capuçon and Znaider sounding magical in the Romance and exuberant in the finale. Erik Levi