The Violin Star

Renaud Capuçon, violin/ conductor, Georgian Strings

Saturday 5 March at 20:30

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Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750)

Violin concerto No 1

Violin concerto No 2

Renaud Capuçon, violin/ conductor
Born in Chambéry in 1976, Renaud Capuçon began his studies at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris at the age of fourteen, winning numerous awards during his five years there. Following this, Capuçon moved to Berlin to study with Thomas Brandis and Isaac Stern, and was awarded the Prize of the Berlin Academy of Arts. In 1997, Capuçon was invited by Claudio Abbado to become concertmaster of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, which he led for three summers, working with conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Seiji Ozawa, Daniel Barenboim, Franz Welser-Moest and Abbado himself.
Since this time, Capuçon has established himself as a soloist at the very highest level. He has played concerti with orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic under Haitink and Robertson, the Boston Symphony under Dohnanyi, the Orchestre de Paris under Eschenbach and the Simon Bolivar orchestra under Dudamel. Capuçon also tours extensively as a solo recitalist and will perform complete cycles of the Beethoven violin sonatas with pianist Frank Braley around the world during the coming seasons.
Upcoming concerto engagements for Capucon include concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra with Harding, City of Birmingham Symphony with Morlot, Philadelphia Orchestra with Bychkov, Chicago Symphony with Nezet-Seguin and Chamber Orchestra of Europe with Haitink.

Capuçon has a great commitment to performing chamber music and has worked with Argerich, Barenboim, Bronfman, Grimaud, Kovacevich, Pires, Pletnev, Repin, Bashmet and Mørk, as well as with his brother and regular collaborator cellist Gautier Capuçon. These collaborations have taken him to the festivals of Edinburgh, London (Mostly Mozart), Berlin, Lucerne, Verbier, Aix-en-Provence, Roque d’Anthéron, San Sebastian, Stresa, Tanglewood and many others.
Capuçon records exclusively for Virgin Classics. His most recent recording was of Beethoven Sonatas for violin and piano with Frank Braley. He also recorded the Beethoven and Korngold concertos with the Rotterdam Philharmonic and Yannick Nezet-Seguin. Since 2007 Renaud Capucon has been an Ambassador for the Zegna & Music project, which was founded in 1997 as a philanthropic activity to promote music and its values.
Renaud Capuçon plays the Guarneri del Gesù “Panette” (1737) that belonged to Isaac Stern, bought for him by the Banca Svizzera Italiana (BSI).

Georgian Strings
For the biography of Georgian Strings, please refer to the concert of March 1

Johannes Bach (1685 – 1750)
Violin concerto No 1
Scholars have traditionally maintained that Bach’s solo-violin concertos were composed in Cöthen and revived for the Leipzig Collegium Musicum. The assumption is based on slender evidence, and recent thought favors the possibility that they actually originated in Leipzig around 1730. There is no doubt that Bach’s keyboard arrangements of these three pieces date from his Leipzig Collegium Musicum years, when he turned the A minor Violin Concerto into his G minor Harpsichord Concerto, and the E major Violin Concerto into his D major Harpsichord Concerto. The work played in this concert continues to be heard in both versions.
The A minor Violin Concerto, densely concentrated and contrapuntally involved, betokens purposeful seriousness in its outer movements. But in its central Andante Bach provides a slow movement of greater relaxation, though not without a measure of tension, thanks to the dissonances that pile up. In this work we find that Bach has absorbed the principles of the Italian concertos that wielded such a formative influence on late-Baroque music; but if this concerto’s structural techniques borrow from the example of Vivaldi and his cohorts, Bach’s brilliant interweaving of counterpoint is unmistakably his own.

Violin concerto No 2
Although Bach is remembered as a virtuoso keyboard player, he was also a skilled violinist. In fact, the first professional job he had was as an orchestral musician. The degree of his skill as a violinist can only be guessed at, yet his Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin make it clear that he was quite proficient. In these polyphonic landmarks of the violin repertoire, Bach demonstrates his familiarity with the effects that can be attained on the violin, often skirting the edge of the possible.
In December 1717, Bach started his new job as Capellmeister in Köthen. His new patron was Prince Leopold von Anhalt-Köthen (1694—1728), a music enthusiast who played the violin, the viola da gamba and the clavier; he was “dearly loved” by Bach. Bach led Prince Leopold’s court orchestra, while playing violin, and wrote lots of chamber music in Köthen. Half of the violin concertos that Bach wrote have been lost. However, of those that remain, Bach’s first biographer, Forkel, wrote that “One can never say enough of their beauty.” Among the violin works composed at Köthen that survive are: The E-major Violin concerto (1717), the Double concerto for two violins, and a concerto for violin and oboe. Several of the six Brandenberg concertos and Four Orchestral Suites also feature prominent violin parts.
Bach’s concerti are different than modern examples of this genre. As opposed to modern concerti, which are generally virtuoso solo pieces with orchestral accompaniment, the obbligato line is more important to Bach than the actual instrument he is writing for. Hence, of seven keyboard concerti Bach wrote, six probably come from violin concerti. Such is the case with Keyboard Concerto #3 (BWV 1054), which is simply a transcription of the violin concerto in E major, BWV 1042.