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Mendelssohn & Schumann: Violin Concertos - Renaud Capucon
Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, Daniel Harding
Mendelssohn & Schumann: Violin Concertos - Renaud Capucon
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (6) - Disc #1


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Great Cover Art but Flabby
laguna_greg | Guess where in CA USA | 05/14/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I first heard Capuçon's Mendelssohn on the radio, broadcast live from the Hollywood Bowl with Salonnen and the LA Phil. The performance was captivating, replete with dash and even electricity. The next day I ordered this CD with a great deal of anticipation but, sadly, I am rather disappointed in the comparison. Mendelssohn's violin concerto is one of the most lyrical in the genre with a strong melodic appeal, rhythmic drive and great orchestration. While it is somewhat overly familiar these days, it rightly deserves its place in the continuing concert repertoire. Capuçon is obviously a strong talent, and it appears that Martha Argerich has taken a hand in championing his career in Europe. His other recordings with his brother and other partners are generally solid and occasionally inspired, especially in the area of programming and repertoire choice; my favorite so far is "face à face", the duo disk he does with his brother the cellist, wonderful playing of great pieces you almost never hear on stage.

So what happened here? On the plus side, the technique is assured and easy. Capuçon obviously has the facility to toss off the piece and be fresh enough to go out dancing. But there are problems. Capuçon's intonation is, somehow, shockingly, not quite right. His vibrato in the 1st movement opening makes it sound like he's playing flat, and he falls into this habit at several slower moments later in the movement. His rhythm is a bit too relaxed for my taste, so the élan and brio are just not there. The second movement sounds uninvolved, with a generally rather weak tone that was supposed to be transparent, maybe (?). The last movement comes across as (dare I say it?) dutiful and well-schooled, instead of electric and mercurial. Harding and his ensemble do an excellent job supporting the soloist at every turn.

The Schumann concerto has less of an immediate appeal to the listener, although it makes a strong vehicle for the virtuoso. Capuçon's intonation is here more accurate but, again, he seems to be phoning in the performance in the first movement. The second movement has some genuinely nice moments. Capuçon exploits the obvious tunefulness to good effect with a lovely, warm tone and a genuine sensitivity to the phrase. The orchestra is wonderfully transparent in the pianissimi, and the dynamic interplay between the soloist and ensemble is compelling. The last movement, however, is a little flabby rhythmically. Instead of well-schooled, it sounds a little school-boyish. Both soloist and orchestra fail to make a compelling sense of line out of the rondo form.

Capuçon is a handsome guy, and he has a great photo on the cover. I know that comment damns him with the faintest of praise, but there it is folks. He plays it better in person. I'm sure the next disk will be better.

P.S., for a very involved and highly unorthodox take on the Mendelssohn, try EMI's Nigel Kennedy with Jeffery Tate and the English Chamber Ensemble."
Great Schumann
TheMusicMan | Corvallis, OR | 09/11/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I only have the schumann violin concerto on this CD, so i can't comment on the mendelssohn which is much more well known. But, i can say that the schumann is one of my favorite pieces in the violin repertoire and that i found Capucon's playing to be excellent. The work is less of a violin concerto and more of a symphony at times, but Capucon's playing still manages to impress. His intonation is excellent and phrasing great. I agree with the other reviewer that the last movement could be a bit more rythmically dynamic, but overall i found the playing here to be superb. The Schumann is one of those pieces i feel i will love forever, and this is a great option if you're looking for a recording. 5 stars for the schumann, but again, i don't know about the mendelssohn.."