Bach (transcr. Frederick Neumann), Eisler, Beffa, Bartók (transcr. Karl Kraemer), Klein, Martinů & Kreisler*
Virgin Classics 3 32626 2
Clearly sibling ensembles can reap wonderful musical rewards when the added ingredient is a magically intuitive sense of communication. Renaud and Gautier Capuçon’s new CD includes not only a wide variety of styles, but also offers old friends alongside less familiar faces such as Gideon Klein – a composer of great promise whose career was tragically cut short by the rise of Nazism. His gripping and dramatic Duo, written in 1939 just preceding his terrible fate in the camps, is teeming with strong ideas, and a nervous tension, rarely far from the surface, is projected here with laudable eloquence.
Martinů’s powerful and haunting folk-inspired Duo, written in 1958, is given a sensitive and virtuosic performance. Full of his trademark harmonic inventions and rhythms it perfectly complements Bartók’s folk-assimilated style in the Popular Hungarian Melodies. Again Renaud and Gautier colourfully convey the gritty rhythmic bite of these transcriptions with their agonisingly sad yet simple melodies.
Another victim of Nazism, Hanns Eisler, is less direct, stylistically alluding to his teacher Schoenberg. Both dense and dramatic, the contrapuntal lines in his Duo are nevertheless delineated with perceptive clarity and compelling dialogue in this excellently ambient recording. The linear connection between Eisler’s musical language and that of Klein is palpable, although no master is greater in this regard than Bach, whose transcribed inventions here are given a gloriously musical rendition.
If that all seems quite meaty fare, then Kreisler’s delightful Viennese miniature, where the pair are joined by their sister, is the perfect foil, and performed here with winning charm.
From the December 2006 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.