Diapason d'or / Arte -
Le Choix de France Musique
French cellist Gautier Capuçon does not lack for charisma (or talent), and he has emerged as a major star. The Erato label seems to have tried to capitalize on that with the design of this album, featuring photos by the American Jamie Beck that cast Capuçon as a kind of Byronic figure. It may be a bit over the top, but classical music needs stars. The contents of the album, however, may not quite live up to the heroic concept. They consist of live performances recorded between 2009 and 2015, not of new material. Schumann wrote more music for cello than other composers did, and assembling them in a single program may have made sense. But the sound universes of the Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129, and the various chamber pieces are entirely different. The major attraction here is the concerto, a work that has been revaluated upward in recent years as performers have clarified its knotty lines. Historically oriented performance works well with Schumann, and there is a historical reading by Argentine cellist Sol Gabetta with the Kammerorchester Basel. But Capuçon offers a fine modern-instrument option, and an important contributor to its success is octogenarian conductor Bernard Haitink, leading the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Sample the precise interplay between Capuçon and Haitink in the first movement, which makes the music seem to unfold inevitably. The concerto never drags, and Capuçon sounds gorgeous. The chamber works were recorded at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland with pianist Martha Argerich, and, in the case of the Fantasiestücke, Op. 88, Capuçon's brother Renaud on violin. Despite the august collaborators, these readings feature differing approaches from the principals and don't quite jell, either interpretively or sonically. Nevertheless, this is an album Capuçon's fans will want, and the reading of the concerto is an important addition to its growing discography.