Renaud Capuçon

Bartók: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2

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The resurgence of popularity of Bartók's violin concertos is striking, with a run of strong recordings in the 2010s, no two are alike and each one adds something to the reception history of these works. This popularity has extended not only to the Violin Concerto No. 2 in B minor, Sz. 112, of the late 1930s, which was a hit from the start, but to the Violin Concerto No. 1, Sz. 36, from the beginning of Bartók's career. Written to impress a young violinist who never played the work, this concerto was dropped by Bartók and was not even given its premiere until 1958, well after his death. The chief virtue of this recording of the concertos by French violinist Renaud Capuçon, joined by the London Symphony Orchestra under François-Xavier Roth, is the lovely recording of the Violin Concerto No. 1. Capuçon himself refers in the album graphics to its "heightened dream-like state," and few other violinists have transported you to that state as he does. Sample the first of the two movements, especially its second subject, which has gone unremarked as one of the greatest tunes in the entire violin repertory. In Capuçon's hands, this concerto is a youthful work of the best kind. He also offers a quiet, delicate reading of the Violin Concerto No. 2 that makes the work a bit inward-looking rather than dramatically dark. If your attention has ever been snared by the first concerto and by the story of its creation, this is a must-have.

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