The Lebrecht Weekly: Elgar – Violin concerto/Violin sonata (Warner)

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  • Violin Concerto
  • Violin Sonata
  • User Ratings (1 Votes)

The first soloist I ever heard play Elgar was the French cellist Paul Tortelier at the Royal Festival Hall – elegant, expressive and chastely romantic, half an hour of unblemished beauty. I was a kid and that must have been 60 years ago. Since then I’ve heard maybe one other French cellist attempt an Elgar concerto, but never, until now, a violinist.

Renaud Capucon is a revelation in many ways. He shifts the accent from phlegmatic to something more Gallic and the dynamics to a whispering tendresse. There is so much individuality in this account that I kept wondering why I was not overwhelmed. The cause lies, I think, with the London Symphony Orchestra and conductor Simon Rattle, trying a tad too hard to oversell the work with emotional swoops. Elgar works best when a conductor appears to do least, in the manner of Adrian Boult, John Barbirolli and Vernon Handley. Push the buttons and it fails to move. The orchestral sound, too, lacked pomp, regardless of difficult present circumstances.

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Capucon is better matched in the violin sonata by the pianist Stephen Hough, an ideal conversation partner who never rudely interrupts and takes his time absorbing each statement before offering a reasoned riposte. This is a serene and civilized dialogue across a channel often blighted these days by wilful miscommunication. If only Boris and Macron could chat like this.


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This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)


About Author

Norman Lebrecht is a prolific writer on music and cultural affairs. His blog, Slipped Disc, is one of the most popular sites for cultural news. He presents The Lebrecht Interview on BBC Radio 3 and is a contributor to several publications, including the Wall Street Journal and The Standpoint. Visit every Friday for his weekly CD review // Norman Lebrecht est un rédacteur prolifique couvrant les événements musicaux et Slipped Disc, est un des plus populaires sites de nouvelles culturelles. Il anime The Lebrecht Interview sur la BBC Radio 3 et collabore à plusieurs publications, dont The Wall Street Journal et The Standpoint. Vous pouvez lire ses critiques de disques chaque vendredi.

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