Tuesday, November 29, 2022

I Concerti dell'Aula Magna - Renaud Capuçon & David Fray - All-Schubert - 11/26/22

Franz Schubert: Sonatina in G Minor, D. 408 
 Franz Schubert: Rondo in B Minor, D. 895 
Franz Schubert: Sonatina in A Minor, D. 385 
Franz Schubert: Fantasie in C Major, D. 934 
Renaud Capuçon: Violin 
David Fray: Piano 

You have to get back on the horse that threw you, they say, so one week after my very wet and endlessly frustrating, but also richly rewarding, trip to La Sapienza University’s Aula Magna concert hall to attend a fabulous all-Schubert concert by the Quartetto di Cremona, I got a ticket for another all-Schubert concert the following Saturday in the same neck of the woods and (Gasp!) the same weather forecast. 
This time, however, the program featured four shorter piano and violin pieces, and while I was sure they would be very satisfying—How could I go wrong with Schubert?—I really bought my ticket for the performers, namely violinist Renaud Capuçon, whom I had already heard and loved when he came to perform during his own Festival de Pâques in Aix-en-Provence, and pianist David Fray, about whom I had heard many good things and whom was ready to love. 
The sky having cleared earlier than expected, I decided to make the most of that lucky break. So I ended up walking there from home and arrived at the venue full composed, blissfully dry, and way too early. But then again, better safe than sorry. 

The concert started on a light-hearted and yet substantial note, as well as a discreet nod to Mozart, with the Sonatina in G Minor, D. 408, which established right away that the two musicians were in full command of their craft and perfectly attuned to each other. The relationship between the two remained collegial and collaborative throughout, with the absence of extravagant fireworks underlining the structural qualities and cheerful mood of the composition. 
We then shifted gears for the Rondo in B Minor, D. 895, whose rhapsodic nature was impeccably calibrated thanks to the duo’s right amount of professional poise, but also infectious excitement. There was a lot going on during those 15 minutes, but they knew exactly how to keep up with each other and Schubert while effortlessly jumping through the countless technical hoops all the way to the final exhilarating high-speed chase. 
After intermission, it was time for the Sonatina in A Minor, D. 385 to enchant our ears and our hearts with Schubert’s trademark pretty melodies and glorious lyricism, which were all expertly handled by both instruments, which danced and sang in beautiful unison. 
At last, we made it to the towering Fantasie in C Major, D. 934, another Schubert favorite of mine, one that stands out for sheer compositional brilliance and, on Saturday afternoon, gave the two musicians the perfect opportunity to finally let their hair down and deliver a downright electrifying performance while remaining within the limits of good taste (They’re French, after all). They may have looked like two young level-headed executives on that stage, but once they got going, they sounded more like two fired-up rock stars hitting the high point on their show. 

And since one can never hear too much Schubert, we concluded the concert right where we started it, with the first movement of the Sonatina in G Minor, D. 408, which came out just as fresh and satisfying as the first time. Not a bad way to make it through the finish line of this fun little Schubert Festival.

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