Gautier Capuçon / Renaud Capuçon / Frank Braley

Ravel: Sonatas & Trio

(CD - Erato / Virgin #7243545492)

Review by

This recording of chamber works by Ravel performed by Renaud and Gautier Capuçon and Frank Braley may not be the most electrifying, but it has a richness of feeling and movement that draws the listener along for a thoroughly enjoyable ride. The opening of the Piano Trio is delicately ethereal and atmospheric, but then it builds to grand heights. The second movement sways and flows in continuous waves, and the third arcs in a way similar to the first movement. The finale has a certain amount of visceral passion, but all of the emotion that these three put into the music is organic and unforced. Braley fits the piano with the strings in a way that is also quite natural sounding, by means of his articulation and tone. Even when the piano has very staccato writing against a smooth string line, or vice versa, as in the first movement of the Violin Sonata, there is no conflict or an adversarial relationship between them. The close sound of the recording helps this by not favoring one instrument over the others, even in the sonatas. Braley's and Renaud Capuçon's "Blues" movement is also one of the most swinging readings, as instinctively felt as anything here, and that carefree jazziness spills over into the third movement. The Sonate posthume is beautifully played, highlighting the Impressionistic colors of the piece. If the Violin Sonata is the most instinctive, the Sonata for Violin and Cello is the most intense performance here. The more dissonant qualities of it seem to demand more concentrated emotion. The Capuçons again combine feeling with movement that keeps the music going forward, even when the tempo slows. The brothers couldn't be better matched in their skills and sympathy for chamber music, and Ravel's in particular, and Braley is the perfect complement to them.

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