Violinist Renaud Capuçon and his cellist brother Gautier have already released chamber works by Brahms on Virgin Classics: Renaud collaborated with Nicholas Angelich for the violin sonatas and Gautier joined them for the piano trios. Their plan to record all Brahms’ solo and chamber repertoire for violin and cello advances with this coupling of the Double Concerto and Clarinet Quintet, two of Brahms’ most warm-hearted works.
Gramophone praised the Capuçons’ version of the piano trios as ‘sure to kindle anyone’s enthusiasm for Brahms. Warm, beautifully balanced tone stresses the composer’s romantic side, as does the expansive phrasing. There’s a feeling of spontaneity, too, as though each player is discovering new aspects to the music while recording it (…) The way they are able to strike a balance between Brahms’s energetic flow of ideas, his strongly delineated structures and his lyrical intensity is most satisfying.’
The Double Concerto was recorded in April 2007 in Vienna’s legendary Musikverein during a tour with the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, comprising young players from all over Europe, and Korean conductor Myung-Whun Chung. Both the Capuçon brothers are alumni of the orchestra. The Austrian newspaper Die Presse commented that ‘fabulous sureness of ensemble and immaculate technique and intonation could be taken as read, while there was a surprise in the effective contrast between the violinist’s focused, almost chamber-like playing and the rich tone of the cellist, gleaming in the higher register.’
The Clarinet Quintet, recorded in Paris in July 2007, is widely regarded as Brahms’ supreme achievement in chamber music, a work that, though intimate, is built on an ambitious scale and embraces many moods. The clarinettist is the Frenchman Paul Meyer and the Capuçons have formed a quartet with Aki Saulière as second violin and Béatrice Muthelet as viola.