BRAHMS / BERG Violin Concertos. Renaud Capucon, Wiener Philharmoniker / Daniel Harding. Virgin

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JOHANNES BRAHMS 1833-1897

Violin Concerto in D major Op. 77

1 Allegro non troppo 22:23 cadenza: Fritz Kreisler

2 Adagio 9:34

3 Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo vivace 7:54

ALBAN BERG 1885-1935

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra “To the memory of an angel”

4 Andante – Allegretto 11:22

5 Allegro – Adagio 16:01

Renaud Capucon,

Wiener Philharmoniker / Daniel Harding

“I’ve long dreamed of playing with the Wiener Philharmoniker,” said violinist Renaud Capuçon in 2011, and his dream has come true with this recording of two concerto masterpieces of the Austro-German repertoire: the Brahms and the Berg, composed almost 50 years apart. The conductor is Daniel Harding, who has built a close relationship the legendary Viennese orchestra. It is the first recording of the Berg Violin Concerto by the Wiener Philharmoniker, with whom it had been created.

Renaud Capuçon, the leading French violinist of his generation, joins the British conductor Daniel Harding and the august Wiener Philharmoniker for two landmark concertos of the Austro-German repertoire. The expansive Brahms concerto, first performed in 1878 by Joseph Joachim, is a peak of the composer’s glowingly warm Romanticism, while the Berg concerto – written in 1935, the last year of Berg’s life, and dedicated to the memory of Manon Gropius, who had died aged just 19 – poignantly blends the atonality of the Second Viennese School with subtle lyricism and, in its second movement, a haunting Bach chorale.

The contrast between the two works echoes the programme of Capuçon’s 2009 Virgin Classics release of the Beethoven and Korngold concertos, described by BBC Music as “a beautiful and appropriate pairing” and “perfect choices for Capuçon’s elegantly understated delivery”. In 2011, after a US performance of the Korngold –composed 10 years after the Berg and a more extrovert offshoot of the Austro-German tradition – the Chicago Tribune praised Capuçon’s “panache, sensitivity and sizzling virtuosity” and “the rich, penetrating sound he drew from his instrument, a 1737 Guarneri del Gesù once belonging to Isaac Stern”.

“I’ve long dreamed of playing with the Wiener Philharmoniker, which is of course one of the world’s most extraordinary orchestras,” said Capuçon in an interview in October 2011. “I’m going to record with them in December, so that will be a dream come true!” This release is the fruit of those recording sessions. Harding made his debut with the legendary Viennese orchestra in 2004, when he was not yet 30, and has since built up a close relationship with its players. Describing the conductor’s approach to Brahms, The Guardian has written that: “Harding is immaculate in his ability to negotiate the complex relationship between feeling and form.”

Capuçon, meanwhile, has pronounced Brahms one of his favourite composers, “for his serenity and the sense of resurrection that he conveys”. His Virgin Classics recording of Brahms chamber works, with his cellist brother Gautier and the pianist Nicholas Angelich was described by Gramophone as “sure to kindle anyone's enthusiasm for Brahms. Warm, beautifully balanced tone stresses the composer's romantic side, as does the expansive phrasing. There's a feeling of spontaneity, too, as though each player is discovering new aspects to the music while recording it.”

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