Cello-piano recital at Tanglewood moves from sadness into beauty

Posted

LENOX — How can anything so beautiful be so heartbreaking? Or maybe it should be the other way around: How can anything so heartbreaking be so beautiful?

Cellist Gautier Capucon and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet teamed to play Brahms' Cello Sonata No. 1 at Tanglewood Wednesday night, setting the tone for the two pieces that followed. Though neither of the subsequent offerings dipped into the pot of sadness and yearning as deeply as did Brahms, his lyricism and introspection, in the hands of this ideally matched duo, had a yearning beauty that could have melted stones.

You can describe these two players, who also pursue separate solo careers, as technical wizards in some very difficult music. You can talk about their thoughtful phrasing. You can talk about Capucon's rich, flexible tone, Thibaudet's ability to assume an equal role, never overshadowing the cello whether supporting it or going out in front.

What it all comes down to is musicianship — that ability to get to the heart of the music so it reaches the heart of the listener. Whatever you call it, it was there in abundance in this Ozawa Hall program.

The evening began happily enough with Schumann's three "Fantasy Pieces," Opus 73, played with good graces, lyricism and rhythmic elasticity that showed Schumann at his tenderest. Capucon's tone was veiled at the start by the evening's humidity, but soon came into full bloom.

Article Continues After These Ads

The Brahms sonata, on the other hand, fits a romantic temperament into a classical, sometimes Bach-like mold. The first movement's pervasive introspection, voiced in varied guises by two arching themes performed here with a fine lyrical sense, carried over into the stuttering, dance-like second movement and the rushing, fugal finale.

An oddity was Sibelius' "Malinconia," a single movement in which long, sighing or furiously racing cello lines compete with a hyperactive piano part, providing a bitter taste of Sibelius' Nordic brand of melancholy. Violence, more than melancholy, sometimes seemed to seethe not far below the outbursts from both instruments.

For the regular program's finale, the partners played Shostakovich's Cello Sonata, Opus 40. Slow movements fulfilling the melancholy voiced earlier in the program alternated with fast movements spiked with Shostakovich's characteristic satire, soon to be muted by Stalin's philistine tastes.

Happy or sad? Beautiful or ugly? Both, making a whole, in this performance.                                             

Two encores followed. The first was an excerpt from the double concerto "Eros "Athanatos" composed for Capucon and Thibaudet by the Swiss Richard Dubugnon, and subsequently arranged by Dubugnon for solo cello and piano. The second was the "Meditation" from Massenet's "Thais," adding a little sugar, irresistibly, to the brew.

Two encores followed. The first was an excerpt from the double concerto "Eros "Athanatos" composed for Capucon and Thibaudet by the Swiss Richard Dubugnon, and subsequently arranged by Dubugnon for solo cello and piano. The second was the "Meditation" from Massenet's "Thais," adding a little sugar, irresistibly, to the brew.


TALK TO US

If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.



Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions