Plenty of affection in a cellist’s homage to his home city

Gautier Capuçon: Destination Paris

The Strad Issue: January 2024

Description: Plenty of affection in a cellist’s homage to his home city

Musicians: Gautier Capuçon (cello) Jérôme Ducros (piano, harpsichord) Maîtrise de Radio France; Paris Chamber Orchestra/Lionel Bringuier

Works: Music by Bizet, Debussy, Fauré, Gounod, Offenbach, Rameau and Ravel; French chansons and film themes arr. Ducros

Catalogue number: ERATO 5419772146

Billed as a ‘love letter to his home city’, Gautier Capuçon’s latest release encompasses music from Paris’s opera houses, cinemas, salons and cabarets in a nostalgic look back at the past century and beyond.

Capuçon has chosen pieces central to French culture, but mostly less well known to English speakers. Of the 22 tracks only one, Fauré’s Sicilienne, was originally written for cello; the rest offer a cornucopia of attractive arrangements.

The mix is eclectic, to say the least. The Habañera from Bizet’s Carmen, played by Capuçon with a coquettish elegance, rubs shoulders with a striking, beautifully hushed theme from the 1963 film Le Mépris; Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante défunte, maybe losing some of its delicacy in this Romantic interpretation, is flanked by Morricone and Charles Aznavour.

There is a relaxed, shoes-off feel to the album, with its warm recorded sound. Capuçon plays with ease and assurance, obviously enjoying performing his personal selection. The specially commissioned centrepiece, Goldman’s Pense à nous, features Capuçon’s wonderful 1701 Gofriller cello soaring high over the voices of hundreds of schoolchildren.

A short introduction by Capuçon is all that is offered by way of programme notes in the booklet, which is otherwise a photographic appreciation of Paris and of Capuçon himself, posing on the rooftops.

Janet Banks