Gautier Capuçon – Intuition
with Jérôme Ducros, piano
Orchestre de chambre de Paris
Deborah Nemtanu: violon solo, concertmaster; Benoît Grenet, cello
Douglas Boyd, direction
With Intuition, Gautier Capuçon presents his own personal collection of favourite works and arrangements for cello «to share an album that would reflect the story of my life and follow the various stages in my emotional development». It is a collection ranging from French to Russian music, from Italian to Spanish repertoires which Capuçon performs accompanied by the Orchestre de chambre de Paris and, in five pieces, by pianist Jérôme Ducros.
Overall, Intuition is a very good recording, one of those which are really worth listening to. Gautier Capuçon is indeed an accomplished cellist and his technical skills and insight are really outstanding. However, I have to make my considerations on some aspects of this recording that do not convince me completely.
First of all, the collections is largely composed of thoughtful, contemplative pieces apart from just few exceptions (which are, usually, the works for cello and piano) that are moreover performed in the most relaxed fashion. The quiet of the studio where the recording has been made had definitely its effect on this album. If you associate, like me, an idea of “suddenness” to “intuition”, you might have the impression that it is the contrary of an “intuition” which is going on here and that we are still in that transitory phase between observation and intuition – which is, meditation.
It is for this reason that I see a sort of contradiction in this recording, which seems to describe better the process rather than its product. This is what happens for example in works as the Meditation from Thaïs, which is played as a pensive piece, plenty of delicate and fine nuances, but that is even too much patiently chiselled, as it happens by the way with Le Cygne from Le Carnaval des animaux, with Pau Casals’s El cant dels ocells and with the Andante cantabile from Tchaikovsky’s String Quartet No. 1.
However, not all the “slow” pieces are so quiet and at the end of Intuition there are three of them which are quite good. I am referring to Rachmaninov’s Vocalise, where inspiration is more free than in other works and where Capuçon’s cello (which replaces the voice) finds “accents” of exceptional tenderness and endless melancholy; to Dvořák’s Silent Woods, which is remarkable for its suggestive atmosphere; and to Fauré’s Après un rêve, where cello and orchestra give prominence to the dream-like tone of this soaring music.
The best part of Intuition is constituted in my opinion by the pieces where Capuçon is joined by pianist Jérôme Ducros, notable for his brilliant and sparkling playing. If you were to look for the spark of intuition somewhere in this recording, you would certainly have to listen to pieces as Encore (composed by Ducros himself), where pianist and cellist share the same verve and respond well to each other. The same can be said of Popper’s Elfentanz, noteworthy for its élan and virtuosity, of Paganini’s Variations sur un theme de Rossini and of Joplin’s amusing Original Rags.