Like his former compatriot Christian Ferras, whom he greatly admires, Renaud Capuçon has been gradually building up a lovely discography, working with the greatest orchestral conductors around today. Completely dedicated to Bartók, this new album offers two concertos by the Hungarian composer with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by François-Xavier Roth.
Not many works have endured as tumultuous a history as the First Concerto. Composed in 1907-1908 for the violinist and friend of Bartók's, Stefi Geyer, it remained in manuscript form long after the composer's death and was finally performed 50 years after it was written, in Basel, by Paul Sacher, patron, conductor, and friend of both Bartók and the Swiss violinist Hansheinz Schneeberger. As for the Second Concerto written in 1938, by an ironic twist of history, it was performed twenty years before the First. The two works are very stylistically different: the First Concerto is lyrical and polytonal in its composition, whereas the Second flirts with a dodecaphonism that Bartók never adopted fully. Oddly avoided by generations of violinists, today these two concertos seem to be drawing the admiration of a new generation of virtuosos free of the prejudices of their predecessors, and who have mastered the language of the 20th century. Renaud Capuçon gives a very able version here, foregrounding Bartók's unique way of expressing himself, partway between classical and popular music. © François Hudry/Qobuz