The Week in Reviews, Op. 423: Renaud Capuçon, Lisa Batiashvili, JACK Quartet

October 31, 2023, 4:48 PM · In an effort to promote the coverage of live violin performance, each week presents links to reviews of notable concerts and recitals around the world.

Renaud Capucon
Violinist Renaud Capucon. Photo by Simon Fowler.

Renaud Capuçon performed Barber's Violin Concerto with Philharmonia Orchestra.

Lisa Batiashvili, pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and cellist Gautier Capuçon performed as a trio in recital at the New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall.

JACK Quartet performed works by John Luther Adams at San Francisco's Herbst Theatre.

Chloe Hanslip performed Robert Russell Bennett's Violin Concerto and Vernon Duke's Violin Concerto and with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.

Cameron Hill performed Bach's Violin Concerto in E, BWV 1042 with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

The Chiaroscuro Quartet performed with clarinetist Matthew Hunt at Djanogly Recital Hall in Nottingham, U.K.

Hilary Hahn performed the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Joshua Bell performed Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 and 3 movements from "The Elements" with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

Aleksey Igudesman performed with pianist Hyung-ki Joo" and actor John Malkovich in the comedic show "The Music Critic" in Los Angeles.

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October 31, 2023 at 10:48 PM · Regarding the Thibaudet/Batiashvili/(Gautier)Capucon piano trio, I went to this exact program in Denver two weeks ago, and I had an unexpected musical allergic reaction, which always makes me wonder about the pair of ears I bring to any performance (bad ear day?). I'll preface this by saying that the audience absolutely loved their playing.

However, I found Thibaudet to have a very nice tone on the piano, but this proved to be torture over the course of the performance; too much of a 'good thing', like gorging on milk chocolate. The balance was almost always too much towards the piano, and Capucon could rarely be heard (perhaps he should have played out more). I found Thibaudet's playing literally monotonous. There was no variation in color, and the dynamic range was limited, without much in the way of a true piano. The Ravel particularly suffered from a kind of inertia, where the sound didn't particularly have much atmosphere or mystery to it, and the piano solo didn't have any particular attention to phrasing or rubato - pretty perfunctory. I found this kind of monotonous sound to be particularly grating in a way that I couldn't get past, since the sense of ensemble was very tight, and Thibaudet's playing was absolutely clear, so that you could make out all the lines. I understood why the audience gave a standing ovation at both the half and at the end, but I couldn't get on board; my problem perhaps (not really, though).

Batiashvili, on the other hand, played beautifully, with a very beautiful basic sound, but also employing a wide range of sounds and colors, very rhythmically, and with a very sensitive sense of ensemble. I just dig the way she plays.

Capucon was pretty underpowered and didn't make much of an impression, and even when the piano wasn't playing and he had a solo, I didn't find his sound particularly striking. Granted, the cello part in the Haydn isn't that prominent, but I was hoping for more.

I've heard Thibaudet as a soloist before, and I think that may be where his strength lies. Batiashvili, I very much look forward to hearing again, and Capucon, maybe I'll give another chance.

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