Wonderful Elgar CD reviewed


Renaud Capucon, London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Simon Rattle, Stephen Hough
Erato 0190295112820
This is an absolutely wonderful coupling of two of Elgar's most heartfelt works, and all concerned deserve the utmost credit for putting the music before their own self-projecting. This has not always been the case with the soloists in Simon Rattle's previous recordings of the Concerto, and I have heard far too many overblown accounts of the Sonata which blow away its fragility.
On this recording he concerto's opening tutti has the most understated but appropriate portamenti in the violins, never overdone or selfconscious, and Renaud Capucon's entry is grippingly grieving, heralding a deeply personal, heartfelt response to this most personal of violin concertos. His delivery is busy, but also with the space lovingly to caress a phrase.
Collaboration between the soloist and Rattle's London Symphony Orchestra is shapely and flexible, with subtle dynamic delicacy. Particularly affecting is the delivery of the finale's many moods, culminating in a dignified unfolding of the heartbreaking reminiscences of the lengthy cadenza, before the conclusion's wonderful defiance.
This is a triumph of socially-distanced recording under lockdown, and Rattle in his senior years is becoming as great an Elgar conductor as one of his recent LSO predecessors, Sir Colin Davis. Perhaps Rattle would give us an Elgar Third Symphony to equal Davis' ineffable recording.
Capucon wears a totally different hat in order to capture the intimate atmosphere of the Violin Sonata; this is private grief, not something to be overblown in a symphony concert.
The opening is arrestingly understated, Stephen Hough's piano accompaniment equally unflashy, and this thrusts the wonderful second subject into such natural relief. There is a gently febrile quality in the second movement Romance, Hough playing with so much unforced detail, and in the finale Capucon affects nothing grandiose, but instead soothes us with reflective reminiscence.
Christopher Morley

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