Lebrecht's Album of the Week

Renaud Capucon: Un violon à Paris (Warner Classics)

Taken together, it’s not the kind of music you want to hear in isolation


At the start of the first Covid lockdown in March 2020, the violinist Renaud Capucon asked his son Elliott to film a short Dvorak piece he was playing on a tablet. What arose from this moment was a ritual in which, for 56 days, Capucon would play each morning with the pianist Guillaume Bellom and post the results online. “It would give me a goal every morning, at a time when one could easily come adrift,” he says.

Do we need to be reminded of that distressing time?

Twenty-two of those tracks have now been released on record, at the very moment that parts of Europe are heading back into lockdown. My first response to the release was, do we need to be reminded of that stressful and distressing time, a time when our minds were filled with fear and mortality and our ears were never far from the next news bulletin? Myself, I buried my head in Beethoven and prayed in between that all my loved ones were well.

Capucon and Bellom took a lighter route, mingling popular cuts of Kreisler and Korngold (Marietta’s Lied, you guessed) with a tenebrous Chopin nocturne, a Rachmaninov drone, one of the less taxing bits of Ysaye and the Smile from Charlie Chaplin’s film Modern Times. Taken together, it’s not the kind of music you want to hear in isolation. You need a friend at hand to laugh and wince with. Elgar’s Chanson de Matin is an odd man out in this resolutely continental selection, but a tribute to Ennio Morricone on his death feels just right. In the thick of Covid we absorbed the daily toll and resolved to carry on making music, come what may.

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