“Capriccio” – Renaud Capucon, violin and Jerome Ducros, piano in Recital – Virgin Classics 374087 2, 73:38 (Distrib. EMI) ****:
Recorded in Lugano, Switzerland (1-3 July 2006), this compendium of 21 short pieces and transcriptions features violinist Renaud Capucon, a gifted artist who plays the 1737 Guarneri del Gesu instrument the late Isaac Stern sported for fifty years. The three longest pieces are Roxana’s Song by Szymanowski in Kochanski’s arrangement; Korngold’s Garden Scene from his Much Ado About Nothing Suite, in the Heifetz arrangement; and the opening waltz sequence from Der Rosenkavalier of Richard Strauss. Typically, Capucon displays a marvelous, even tone and a series of techniques (legato in Clair de Lune) and pyro-techniques (spiccato and staccato in Dinicu’s Hora staccato), all of which flow effortlessly, as in all potpourris of this kind. The only “capriccio” on this disc, by the way, is Elgar’s La Capricieuse, Op. 17.
Much of these musical materials have been common, violin fare in my old collections from Milstein, Morini, Oistrakh, Kreisler, Menuhin, and Perlman: curiously, all of them, like Capucon, were EMI artists at one time or another. It might be more valuable to mention a few unusual items, like Schubert’s song The Bee in Capucon’s own transcription; the song Ein einsamer Quelle, Op. 9, No. 2 by Richard Strauss (arranged by Vasa Prihoda); and two transcribed songs, unaccredited, from Robert Schumann’s cycle of Frauenliebe und Leben, Op. 42. The Strauss song provides an excellent example of Ducros’ pearly piano sound, his capacity to play pp and make himself heard and felt poignantly. The publicity photos caught my eye: the cover shot has Capucon’s slicked-back hair imitating Andy Garcia, while that in the middle of the booklet, Capucon’s forward-combed hair deliberately evokes the youthful Yehudi Menuhin. I guess you pay for both when you purchase this album.