Accompanied by Orchestre de Paris, French cellist Gautier Capuçon plays Antonín Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104, B. 191, the last solo concerto of the Czech composer. Conductor: Paavo Järvi. Filmed in the Salle Pleyel in Paris and directed by François-René Martin.
Antonín Dvořák’s Cello Concerto
Dvořák’s cello concerto is widely regarded as one of the greatest cello concertos ever written.
The concerto was written in 1894 for the composer’s friend, the Czech cellist Hanuš Wihan (5 June 1855 – 1 May 1920), but was premiered in London on March 19, 1896, by the English cellist Leo Stern (5 April 1862 – 10 September 1904).
Dvořák’s Cello Concerto is scored for a full romantic orchestra (with the exception of a 4th horn), containing two flutes (second doubling piccolo), two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, three horns, two trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, triangle (last movement only), and strings, and is in the standard three-movement concerto format:
- Allegro (B minor then B major). The first movement starts softly, with the clarinets introducing the theme. The full orchestra later plays the theme in a grandioso manner, leading to a horn solo which introduces the secondary, lyrical theme. The first theme is played throughout the movement and during the last part of the third movement, giving the concerto a cyclic structure. The solo cello begins with a quasi improvisando section stating the theme in B major followed by triple-stopped chords. The cello then plays the theme again in E major. This concerto requires a lot of technical ability, especially in the coda, where the cello plays octaves and many double stops. After the resolution by the solo cello, there is a modulation in which the winds play an E-flat minor chord, changing the key. The solo cello ends with trills on a high B. The movement ends tutti with the restatement of the first theme marked grandioso and fortissimo.
- Adagio, ma non troppo (G major). Following this opening essay is the lengthy Adagio, a lyrical movement that features a cadenza-like section that is accompanied mainly by flutes. The cello plays double stops accompanied by left-hand pizzicato on open strings. The movement ends with the cello playing harmonics very quietly.
- Finale: Allegro moderato – Andante – Allegro vivo (B minor then B major). The finale of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto is formally a rondo. It opens with the horn playing the main theme quietly. A gradual crescendo leads into a dramatic woodwinds and strings section. The solo cello enters by playing the modified main theme loudly which is marked risoluto. The orchestra plays the newly modified theme again. Then the cello enters with a melody played on the A string played with thirty-second notes on the D string. This fast section leads into a section marked poco meno mosso, dolce, and piano. A crescendo and accelerando lead into a fast arpeggio played in sixteenth-note triplets. A fast scale leads into a loud tutti section presenting new material. The cello enters and a gradual decrescendo to another restatement of the theme marked piano. This is followed by a contrasting, loud restatement of the theme played by woodwinds accompanied by strings and brass. This is followed by a moderato section in C major and eventually meno mosso which slowly modulates from A major to C♯ major to B♭ major and finally goes to the original tempo in B major. This is followed by another quiet and slow section which uses material from the first and second movements. The concerto ends allegro vivo presented by the full orchestra.
Gautier Capuçon (born 3 September 1981, Chambéry, Savoie) is a French cellist. He started learning the cello when he was four years old. He began his formal musical education in his hometown at the Ecole Nationale de Musique de Chambéry, where he graduated with first prizes in cello and in piano.
In Paris, he studied the cello initially with Annie Cochet-Zakine, who had heard him in Chambéry and brought him with her to the Conservatoire Supérieur de Paris (CNR), where he graduated in 1997 with the first prize in cello. He then became a pupil of cello pedagogue Philippe Muller at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris (CNSMP), where he graduated in 2000 with first prizes in cello and chamber music. After that, he finished his studies with Heinrich Schiff at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna.
Between 1997 and 1998, as a student, he was a cellist in the European Community Youth Orchestra (now the European Union Youth Orchestra) and also in the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, playing under conductors including Bernard Haitink, Pierre Boulez and Claudio Abbado.
He is also an accomplished pianist. He started learning the piano at the age of seven and studied it as his second instrument at the Conservatoire Supérieur de Paris under Christophe Egiziano. He enjoys playing jazz piano recreationally. Now he teaches at Classe d’Excellence de Fondation Louis Vuitton with young students.
Capuçon’s principal instrument is a 1701 Matteo Goffriller cello which he has on loan. He also has a 1746 Joseph Contreras cello on loan from BSI (Banca della Svizzera Italiana).
Speaking about his Goffriller cello in April 2008, he said:
“I am very lucky to be playing this cello for ten, nearly eleven, years now. It is a Matteo Goffriller, of the Venetian school, from 1701. All the Goffriller cellos that I have tried are not easy to play. For each note you need to know how much bow pressure, how much vibrato and how much bow speed you can put on it. It is an instrument that you really need to know to be able to play; it is not like a Montagnana or a Stradivarius. Montagnana, for example – most of them are really easy to play. So in a way, on the Goffriller, I probably search more and look more for different things.”
Describing a Montagnana cello as his “dream” instrument of choice, he said: “I hope one day to be able to play on a Montagnana.”
- First prize, Maurice Ravel International Academy of Music competition, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France, 1998
- Second prize, 3rd Adam International Cello Festival, and Competition, Christchurch, New Zealand, 1999
- First prize, 1er André Navarra International Cello Competition, Toulouse, France, 1999
- Victoires de la Musique Classique, “New Talent of the Year”, 2001
- Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award, 2004
- Echo Classics Award (category: Young Artist of the Year) Germany, 2004
- Echo Classics Award (category: Chamber Music Recording of the Year (20th/21st Century)), Germany 2007
- Echo Classics Award (category: Concerto Recording of the Year) Germany 2010/2011
- Echo Classics Award (category: Chamber Music Recording of the Year (19th Century)/Mixed Ensemble)) Germany, 2012
- Cello Concerto (Dvořák) on Wikipedia
- Gautier Capuçon’s official website
- Gautier Capuçon on Wikipedia
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