Gautier Capuçon / Renaud Capuçon

Brahms: Double Concerto; Clarinet Quintet

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Existing fans of brothers Renaud and Gautier Capuçon have likely been waiting with baited breath for their eventual and inevitable release of the Brahms Double Concerto, a work that would seem to have their names written all over it. Their premiere duo album, Face a Face, demonstrated their incredible technique, precision intonation, and inborn knack for playing together. Each brother's solo ventures, from Gautier's vivacious interpretation of the Haydn cello concertos and Renaud's insightful performance of Mendelssohn and Schumann, have been similarly highly regarded. All of these positive attributes makes this much-anticipated recording all the more disappointing because many of these traits are mysteriously absent. From the very beginning, listeners will notice a distinct lack of energy coupled with an abundance of overindulgence as Gautier's opening cadenza becomes so ponderous that it almost comes to a halt. Similar pacing problems occur any time either of the brothers is given a moment without the orchestra to push them along. The unwavering unification of the brothers' playing heard in Face a Face is also sadly absent; neither their sound quality nor intonation nor articulation matche as it once did. Kudos should be given, however, to the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester -- composed of European youth -- who offer a surprisingly mature, rich symphonic sound.

Also on the album is Brahms' ethereal Op. 115 Clarinet Quintet. Clarinetist Paul Meyer joins the Capuçon Quartet; his glass-like, plaintive sound quality really carries the entire ensemble. The Capuçon brothers try to make the performance too much about themselves, however, which results in frequent balance problems.

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