Renaud Capuçon – Saint-Saëns Violin Sonata No. 1, Cello Sonata No. 1 & Piano Trio No. 2 (2020)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:15:45 minutes | 1,37 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © Warner Classics
It’s always a good thing when a new recording fills a hole in the catalogue, and this all-Saint-Saëns chamber programme from seasoned collaborators Renaud Capuçon, Bertrand Chamayou and Edgar Moreau is one of those. Firstly because, while there already exists a generous smattering of readings of the first violin and cello sonatas from a range of top names, they tend not to be paired with each other. Plus, they’ve never been paired with the magnificent Piano Trio No. 2, which itself has been much less recorded. Add the fact that here we have not just three of France’s finest artists, but among them the pianist who carried off Gramophone’s “2019 Recording of the Year” precisely for his Saint-Saëns (recording of Concertos Nos. 2 & 5), and there’s a whole host of reasons why this album deserves your full attention.
The Violin Sonata No. 1 gets things off to a great start. Dubbed the “Hippogriff Sonata” by Saint-Saëns on account of the near-mythical powers it requires of the violinist, this work demands not just supreme technique, but also a wide palette of colours, and the ability to apply them sometimes with the kind of nuance that suggests there’s more going on emotionally than is perhaps sitting on the surface. Capuçon is well endowed with mystical technical powers, and they’re in full play over this warm-toned performance delivered with unfailing elegance. Crucially also, the closeness of the dialogue between him and multi-coloured Chamayou yields a constant succession of pleasures that reach their apotheosis in the moto perpetuo virtuosities of the final Allegro molto. Equally crucially, the bright engineering has honoured the piano’s importance, both in the overall balance, and in the clarity with which every single perfectly articulated, iridescent note of Chamayou’s has been captured.
The same holds true for the capturing of his piano concerto-esque virtuosities in the Cello Sonata No. 1, classily delivered by Moreau, who himself employs a satisfyingly wide dynamic range, while maintaining finesse of tone and attack even through the stormiest moments.
Where this recording deserves reference status, however, is with the Trio. Just listen to the journey these three have taken us on even before we’ve made it to bar 20: the dramatically taut, forwards-propulsion of the piano’s dark, opening chords; tonal matching from Capuçon and Moreau that’s so exact through their passings of the melodic line that you really have to strain to hear where one stops and the other picks up; the myriad of colouristic nuances and shapings and fluctuations of temperature being brought by one and all to the music’s moody rise and fall; then the glorious parting of the clouds from them as the E major second theme drops. Or, for an example at the other end of the work, listen to the impeccably tight chamber partnering on display through their deftly wrought, filigree fugue in the final movement. Also the achingly lovely upper register singing from Capuçon in that movement’s (and indeed the entire trio’s) softer, longer-lined moments. The whole thing is leaping out of the stereo from first to final chord, glowing, glittering, exciting and charming on every front.
Highly recommended. – Charlotte Gardner
1. Saint-Saëns: Violin Sonata No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 75: I. Allegro agitato (6:43)
2. Saint-Saëns: Violin Sonata No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 75: I. Adagio (5:48)
3. Saint-Saëns: Violin Sonata No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 75: II. Allegro moderato (3:58)
4. Saint-Saëns: Violin Sonata No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 75: II. Allegro molto (6:11)
5. Saint-Saëns: Cello Sonata No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 32: I. Allegro (9:06)
6. Saint-Saëns: Cello Sonata No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 32: II. Andante tranquillo sostenuto (5:22)
7. Saint-Saëns: Cello Sonata No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 32: III. Allegro moderato (6:36)
8. Saint-Saëns: Piano Trio No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 92: I. Allegro non troppo (10:26)
9. Saint-Saëns: Piano Trio No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 92: II. Allegretto (6:08)
10. Saint-Saëns: Piano Trio No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 92: III. Andante con moto (3:56)
11. Saint-Saëns: Piano Trio No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 92: IV. Grazioso, poco allegro (4:21)
12. Saint-Saëns: Piano Trio No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 92: V. Allegro (7:16)