A tasteful and gorgeously performed collection of smooth violin sweetmeats

 Renaud Capuçon: Un Violon à Paris

The Strad Issue: January 2022

Description: A tasteful and gorgeously performed collection of smooth violin sweetmeats

Musicians: Renaud Capuçon (violin) Guillaume Bellom (piano)

Works: Music by Bach, Chopin, Handel, Kreisler, Korngold, Puccini, Rachmaninoff, Schubert, Schumann and Wagner

Catalogue number: ERATO 9029652001

Many artists were inspired, or driven, to conceive projects during the lockdowns of the past 18 months. This one comes from Renaud Capuçon, ‘impelled by a combination of worry and isolation anxiety’, who with pianist Guillaume Bellom broadcast a piece a day for 56 days during the spring 2020 lockdown in France. This recording is a selection of 22 of the works they played. He hopes it will bring its listeners ‘calm and comfort’, and the repertoire is appropriately gentle and lyrical. There are no virtuoso fireworks here, and Joachim’s transcription of Brahms’s Hungarian Dance no.5 is about as animated as it gets.

This is an 80-minute masterclass in the art of lyrical playing, of expression, shape and beauty, and as such is an unassuming wonder. Most of the pieces are well known, and most of them are arrangements. There is Milstein’s version of Chopin’s C sharp minor Nocturne, simple and exquisite; a wistful account of ‘Mariettas Lied’ from Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt; Debussy’s Clair de lune, quiet and supple; Elgar’s Chanson de matin, quite jaunty. Capuçon ends with some film music, including a wonderfully schmaltzy version of Chaplin’s Smile. Don’t look here for infinite variety, or indeed anything much above mezzo piano. This is just beautiful violin playing, well recorded.