Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 18, 2019

REVIEW: Tanglewood , Gautier Capucon, Jean-Yves Thibaudet

Tanglewood, Lenox, MA
July 17, 2019
by Michael J. Moran

Threatening clouds on a humid Berkshire evening added an extra frisson to an exciting program in Ozawa Hall of music by four composers for cello and piano played by a French-born duo of international superstars. Only a light shower fell, but the concert more than fulfilled its promise.

Thibaudet & Capucon
Cellist Gautier Capucon and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet began with Schumann’s three 1849“Fantasy Pieces,” Opus 73, which the composer suggested could be played by cello, clarinet, or violin and piano. The deep resonance of Capucon’s playing, along with Thibaudet’s mercurial pianism, made the cello an ideal instrument to convey the fanciful nature of this delightful suite.

The opening half of the concert closed with the first of the two cello sonatas by Brahms. Completed in 1865, it makes up for the lack of a traditional slow movement with varying tempos in each of its three remaining movements. The sensitive presentation by Capucon and Thibaudet captured both the classical influence of Bach in the outer movements and Mozart in the central minuet and the romantic outpourings throughout.

Intermission was followed with a fascinating twelve-minute rarity called “Malinconia” that Sibelius wrote in 1900 after the death from typhus of his fifteen-month-old daughter. But rather than the “overpowering sense of misery” identified in Jay Goodwin’s program notes, the committed performance of this demanding score by the Capucon-Thibaudet duo conveyed both intense grief and profound affection.
The program closed with a passionate account of Shostakovich’s only cello sonata. Written in 1934, it combines the sarcastic and serious sides of his developing style to produce an enigmatic whole. Capucon and Thibaudet rendered the lyrical yearning of the first movement, the playful mockery of the second, the tragic pathos of the third, and the childlike simplicity of the finale, all with the utmost conviction.

The duo rewarded the enthusiastic capacity audience with two French encores, both played with their trademark elegance: a sensuous excerpt (presented in this format “for the first time,” according to Capucon) from a double concerto they recently commissioned by Swiss composer Richard Dubugnon; and the touching “Meditation” from Massenet’s opera “Thais.”

Other upcoming concerts in Ozawa Hall this season include: soprano Renee Fleming, the
Emerson String Quartet, and pianist Simone Dinerstein premiering a new work by Andre Previn and Tom Stoppard (July 24); “Song of America: Beyond Liberty,” sung by baritone Thomas Hampson (July 31); and Beethoven trios played by pianist Emanuel Ax, violinist Leonidas Kavakos, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma (August 6).