Two acclaimed veterans of the Verbier Festival, Gautier Capuçon and Yuja Wang, share the stage in celebration of the Festival's 20th anniversary!
A meeting between the spirited French cellist Gautier Capuçon and the incomparable virtuoso Yuja Wang, stars of the Verbier Festival. Everybody remembers Yuja's astonishing 2008 performance of Flight of the Bumblebee in the Verbier Festival church. For his part, Capuçon's 2012 lyric and luminous performance of the Saint-Saëns' Cello Concerto remains unforgettable. The two musicians of exceptional artistic talent perform works by Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergei Rachmaninov and Astor Piazzolla.
In this concert they perform Shostakovich's only Sonate for Cello and Piano (1934) as well as that of Rachmaninov (1901), a rare chamber music work by the composer. The composer Astor Piazzolla is put in the spotlight as the concert's closing piece, with his Grand Tango for Cello and Piano, a one-movement work that combines traditional tango with jazz.
Recorded at the Verbier Festival, in the Verbier Church, Switzerland, on July 30, 2013.
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)
♪ Sonata for Cello and Piano in D minor, Op.40 (1934)
i. Allegro non troppo
Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
♪ Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor, Op.19 (1901)
i. Lento - Allegro Moderato
ii. Allegro Scherzando
iv. Allegro mosso
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992)
♪ Grand Tango for Cello and Piano (1982)
Gautier Capuçon, cello
Yuja Wang, piano
Directed by Anaïs Spiro
Verbier Festival, Verbier Church, Switzerland, July 30, 2013
Dmitri Shostakovich: Sonata for Cello and Piano in D minor, Op.40
When Shostakovich's Cello Sonata received its premiere in December 1934, many of his contemporaries were struck by its conservative language. His image as the Soviet Union's enfant terrible had not yet faded despite his very public return to a more accessible musical language in his acclaimed opera Lady Macbeth, premiered earlier that year. Around this time Shostakovich wrote various articles describing his search for a simple, clear and expressive language. Though that search was to take him into the deeply ambivalent world of the Fourth Symphony of 1936, the Cello Sonata is clearly an early manifestation of this new trend.
Right from the start, the Sonata feels like a new departure. Its gently rocking opening doesn't sound like anything Shostakovich had written before; the very self-conscious repeat of the sonata exposition is almost a declaration of faith in Classical first principles. And, though Shostakovich had cancelled further lucrative work in film in order to concentrate on it, the Sonata is permeated with the intonations of popular music and Lady Macbeth. Instead of the yearning arioso-writing that can be heard in the contemporaneous Moderato for cello and piano, the Sonata's Largo shows a stronger kinship with the convicts' song that concludes the opera, echoing it strongly in its four-bar phrasing, its melodic shape and even at one point by a close allusion. In the cheekily song-like finale Shostakovich reverts to the high spirits of the previous year's First Piano Concerto, keeping the manic spirit of music-hall only just at arm's length. Most remarkable of all, though, is the faux-naif second-movement scherzo, with its stark, almost peasant-like roughness. At no point does it evoke Russian folk song; in fact, its heavy repeated rhythms and four-square phrases are more reminiscent of German or Austrian dances as refracted through the lens of Schubert, Brahms or Mahler. Notwithstanding all these influences, there is a distinctly urban swagger to the scherzo, suggesting that here, once again, Shostakovich the film composer is not far away.
Source: Pauline Fairclough (hyperion-records.co.uk)
Sergei Rachmaninov: Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor, Op.19
The mystic aspect to Rachmaninov's art can be felt strongly throughout his Cello Sonata, his most famous piece of chamber music. While there are no obvious quotations from any Orthodox hymns, the style of many of the themes, with their close intervals, their incense-filled colours, the passionate, almost obsessive repetition of single notes (particularly in the main theme of the slow movement), and the frequent bell-like sonorities, owe a huge debt to the music of the Russian Church that was such an important influence on the composer's life. Written in 1901, the year after the perennially beloved Second Piano Concerto, the Cello Sonata reflects, perhaps, the state of Rachmaninov's heart and mind. Having suffered a nervous breakdown after the catastrophic failure of his First Symphony in 1897, Rachmaninov had fought his way back to mental and creative health. Surely it is not fanciful to hear an echo of this in the struggles of the first movement, with its conflict between semitones and whole tones; in the dark night of the Scherzo; and then in the blazing joy of the Finale? No bearded Russian priest with his Easter cry "Christ is Risen" can ever have sounded more triumphant than the cello does as it announces the glorious second theme of this movement. The whole sonata, imbued as it is with the classical discipline that is so vital a feature of all Rachmaninov's music, encompasses a vast range of romantic emotion – a journey of the soul.
(Incidentally, a footnote: any attentive listener following this performance with a score may be surprised, if not shocked, to hear us playing fortissimo at one point in the coda of the last movement, when the printed edition is clearly marked pianissimo. The justification – apart from the musical sense it so clearly makes, at least to us – comes from a piece of oral history: my grandfather, Julius Isserlis, used to play this sonata in Russia with the work's dedicatee, the cellist Anatoly Brandukov. Brandukov, when he wasn't busy flirting outrageously with my grandmother, apparently told my grandfather that Rachmaninov had decided, presumably after publication, that he preferred the fortissimo at this point. Since there has only been one edition of the sonata, this preference has never been documented. I heard about it only because my grandmother, also a pianist, learnt the sonata when she was around eighty, in order to play it with me when I was a little boy; she passed on this nugget of information, and I have to say that I find it entirely convincing.)
Source: Steven Isserlis (hyperion-records.co.uk)
Astor Piazzolla: Grand Tango for Cello and Piano
Le Grand Tango, Spanish El gran tango, single-movement piece for cello and piano by Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla that expresses the spirit of nuevo tango ("new tango"), a melding of traditional tango rhythms and jazz-inspired syncopation. Written in 1982, Le Grand Tango was published in Paris – thus its French rather than Spanish title.
Piazzolla studied composition in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, who encouraged him to stick with the tango rather than focusing solely on classical composition. Taking her words to heart, he began to experiment with the standard Argentine tango, diverging from the expected Latin harmonies and producing an edgier sound than that found in classic tango. He composed Le Grand Tango for Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, who did not play it until 1990 or record it until 1996.
Although structured in a single movement, the work has three broad sections. It opens with the indication "Tempo di tango", in which strongly accented tango rhythms dominate. In the second section, performers are told to allow more motion, with a "libero e cantabile" (free and singing) spirit. It contains extensive dialogue between the cello and the piano. The final section, for which Piazzolla provided the tempo indication "giocoso" (humorous), presents a mood of electric energy and even humour. The music charges forward to its conclusion, giving the cellist many challenging double-stops (playing two notes at once) and glissandos (sliding rapidly through a musical scale).
Source: Betsy Schwarm (britannica.com)
Yuja Wang was born in Beijing on February 10, 1987, and encouraged at a young age to make music by her dancer mother and percussionist father, starting the never-ending thirst for knowledge that has sustained her musical development. Yuja began piano lessons at the age of six and her progress was accelerated by studies at Beijing's Central Conservatory of Music. In 1999 she moved to Canada to participate in the Morningside Music summer programme at Calgary's Mount Royal College and thereafter enrolled as the youngest ever student at Mount Royal Conservatory. Wang's exceptional gifts were widely recognised in 2001 with her appointment as a Steinway Artist, and again the following year when she was offered a place at Philadelphia's prestigious Curtis Institute of Music where she studied with Gary Graffman.
By the time Yuja graduated from the Curtis Institute in May 2008, she had already gathered momentum following the spectacular success of her debut three years earlier with the National Arts Center Orchestra in Ottawa. Wang attracted widespread international attention in March 2007 when she replaced Martha Argerich on short notice in performances of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No.1 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and within the span of just a few seasons she was working with conductors of the highest calibre. Over the past ten years of her career, she has worked with such pre-eminent Maestros as Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Valery Gergiev, Michael Tilson Thomas, Antonio Pappano, Charles Dutoit, and Zubin Mehta.
In January 2009 Yuja Wang became an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon recording artist. Her debut album, Sonatas & Etudes, prompted Gramophone to name her as its 2009 Young Artist of the Year. Her 2011 release of Rachmaninov's Second Concerto and Paganini Rhapsody with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Claudio Abbado was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo category. Subsequent releases for the yellow label include Fantasia, an album of encore pieces by Albéniz, Bach, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Saint-Saëns, Scriabin, and others; a live recording of Prokofiev's Concertos Nos. 2 and 3 with Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, and an acclaimed coupling of Ravel's two piano concertos with Fauré's Ballade, recorded with the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich and Lionel Bringuier. Reviewers around the world have documented the full range of Wang's work, capturing the essence of her musicianship and observing the development of an artist blessed with consummate technical prowess, an inexhaustible creative imagination, and an unmatched stamina.
She was recently described by the New York Times as "one of the best young pianists around" and hailed by the Sydney Morning Herald for her "blistering technique". In July 2015 the Los Angeles Times declared: "Hers is a nonchalant, brilliant keyboard virtuosity that would have made both Prokofiev (who was a great pianist) and even the fabled Horowitz jealous". The combination of critical acclaim, audience ovations, return engagements at leading international venues, and an exclusive recording relationship with Deutsche Grammophon confirm the 29-year old pianist's status as one of this century's most compelling artists.
The international reach and artistic breadth of Yuja Wang's 2016-2017 schedule reflects the strong demand for her work. She unveils her new season in the summer of 2016 with a run of recitals, chamber concerts and concerto performances at the Salzburg, Wolftrap, Tanglewood, Verbier and Baltic Sea festivals including collaborations with Matthias Goerne, Leonidas Kavakos, Lionel Bringuier, Gustavo Gimeno and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Following her initial NCPA residency concerts, Wang embarks on an extensive recital tour of China and Japan in September before traveling to the United States to open the Philadelphia Orchestra's season with three performances of Chopin's Piano Concerto No.2 in partnership with Yannick-Nézet-Séguin.
Yuja's way of making music connects with a strikingly broad audience. It appeals to everyone, from newcomers to the concert hall to devoted pianophiles, and has attracted an exceptionally youthful following. Her love for fashion, recently recognised by her induction into Giorgio Armani's Sì Women's Circle, has also contributed to the popular appeal of an artist who is armed with the ability to challenge convention and win fresh converts to classical music. She is set to broaden her audience throughout the 2016-2017 season, not least through her term as Artist-in-Residence at China's National Centre for the Performing Arts as well as the Konserthuset in Stockholm. The Beijing-born pianist returns to her home city in August for the first of six specially curated concerts at the NCPA, where she will explore programmes of Romantic and 20th-century repertoire in solo, chamber, and orchestral concerts. Her time in Stockholm will be filled by chamber music with Leonidas Kavakos, Bartok with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and Maestro Sakari Oramo as well as a recital programme.
Other bold highlights of Yuja Wang's 2016-2017 season include a nine-concert Asian tour with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Michael Tilson Thomas; performances of Ravel's Piano Concerto in G with the London Symphony Orchestra and Gianandrea Noseda at New York's Lincoln Center and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and an extensive spring tour of Europe with the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Antonio Pappano. In December she joins forces with percussionist Martin Grubinger for concerts in Vienna, Munich, Zurich, and Tel Aviv, and marks the new year with extensive recital tours of Europe and the United States with violinist Leonidas Kavakos. Wang will also undertake a major solo European recital tour in March and April, complete with concerts in Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, Vienna and London, and many other cities.
Over the next season's course, Yuja will explore everything from chamber works by Beethoven and Brahms to concertos by Chopin and Shostakovich. Her profound affinity for Bartók falls under the spotlight when she explores each of the composer's three piano concertos, with performances of individual works in Beijing, Cleveland, Dallas, Guangzhou, Stockholm, Taiwan and Toronto, and of the complete set with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and Gustavo Dudamel over two consecutive weeks in May and June.
Yuja's 2017-2018 season features recitals, concert series, and extensive tours with some of the world's most venerated ensembles and conductors. She begins the summer of 2017 on tour with the London Symphony Orchestra and Michael Tilson Thomas and a programme featuring Brahms' Piano Concerto No.2, followed by a performance of the first concerto at the Ravinia Festival with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Lionel Bringuier. Later engagements include concerts with the Munich Philharmonic and Valery Gergiev, a series of performances at the Verbier Festival, and a three-city German tour with the St Petersburg Philharmonic.
She also embarks on play-conduct tours with two of the best chamber orchestras in the world, Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra of Europe, as well as joining the inaugural tour of Jaap van Zweden with the New York Philharmonic and the final tour of Yannick Nézet-Séguin's directorship with the Rotterdam Philharmonic. Other notable appearances include concerts in Hong Kong, Miami, Washington D.C., Prague, Tel Aviv, and Berlin.
Winter of 2017 sees Yuja reunite with violinist and frequent collaborator Leonidas Kavakos for a European chamber tour, whilst in the spring of 2018, Yuja Wang will embark on a vast-reaching recital tour at premiere venues in the US and Europe; New York City, San Francisco, Rome, Vienna, Berlin, Paris, and beyond.
Gautier Capuçon is a true 21st century ambassador for the cello. Performing each season with many of the world's foremost conductors and instrumentalists, he is also founder and leader of the Classe d'Excellence de Violoncelle at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris – based in the stunning new Auditorium designed by Frank Gehry. He is acclaimed internationally for his deeply expressive musicianship and exuberant virtuosity, as well as for the glorious sonority of his 1701 Matteo Goffriller cello.
During 2017-2018 Capuçon will appear as soloist in a number of orchestral tours across Europe, the US and in Asia. In Europe he will tour with Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, Wiener Symphoniker (Philippe Jordan), and the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester. In the US he will tour with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (Charles Dutoit) and the National Center for Performing Arts; and in Asia with hr-Sinfonieorchester (Andrés Orozco-Estrada) and as part of the Verbier Festival with Gábor Takács-Nagy. Other concerto highlights include return performances with Gewandhausorchester Leipzig (Herbert Blomstedt), Wiener Philharmoniker (Semyon Bychkov), Orchestre de Paris (Yu Long), San Francisco Symphony Orchestra (Stéphane Denève), City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla) and London Philharmonia (Paavo Järvi).
Last season Capuçon appeared with, among others, London Symphony Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden, Berliner Philharmoniker, Münchner Philharmoniker, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony. Over recent years he has also performed with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, New York Philharmonic, NHK Symphony, Sydney Symphony and Mariinsky orchestras, as well as with all of the major orchestras across France.
A regular recital and chamber musician, Capuçon appears annually in the major halls and festivals worldwide. Highlights this season include a return to Carnegie Hall (with Daniil Trifonov), an extensive international recital tour with duo partner Jérôme Ducros, supporting the international release of the album "Intuition" featuring the same repertoire, and performances at Verbier Festival with: Lisa Batiashvili, Christoph Eschenbach, Janine Jansen, Leonidas Kavakos, Yuja Wang and Tabea Zimmermann. Other artists with whom Capuçon regularly performs include Nicholas Angelich, Martha Argerich, Daniel Barenboim, Frank Braley, Renaud Capuçon, Katia and Marielle Labèque, Menahem Pressler, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and the Artemis and Ébène quartets.
Gautier Capuçon continues to work regularly with conductors such as Charles Dutoit, Semyon Bychkov, Valery Gergiev, Gustavo Dudamel, Lionel Bringuier, Andris Nelsons, Christoph Eschenbach, Andrés Orozco-Estrada and Yannick Nézet-Séguin; and collaborates with contemporary composers including, amongst others, Lera Auerbach, Karol Beffa, Esteban Benzecry, Nicola Campogrande, Qigang Chen, Jérôme Ducros, Henry Dutilleux, Thierry Escaich, Philippe Manoury, Bruno Mantovani, Krzysztof Penderecki, Wolfgang Rihm, and Jörg Widmann.
Recording exclusively for Erato (Warner Classics), Capuçon and has won multiple awards and holds an extensive discography. In 2016-2017 he released Beethoven Sonatas with Frank Braley to critical acclaim. Other recent recordings include Shostakovich's Cello Concertos with the Mariinsky Orchestra and Valery Gergiev; and Schubert's String Quintet with Quatuor Ébène. Prior to that he won plaudits for a recital disc of music by Schubert, Schumann, Debussy, Britten and Carter with Frank Braley, and Saint-Saëns' First Cello Concerto and la Muse et le poète with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and Lionel Bringuier. He has also recorded chamber music with Martha Argerich, Nicholas Angelich, Renaud Capuçon and Gabriela Montero; and in 2013 Deutsche Grammophon released a DVD featuring Capuçon as soloist with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Gustavo Dudamel in a live performance of Haydn's Cello Concerto No.1.
Born in Chambéry in 1981, Capuçon began playing the cello at the age of five. He studied at the Conservatoire National Supérieur in Paris with Philippe Muller and Annie Cochet-Zakine, and later with Heinrich Schiff in Vienna. The winner of various first prizes in many leading international competitions, including the International André Navarra Prize, Capuçon was named "New Talent of the Year" by Victoires de la Musique in 2001.
Gautier Capuçon and Yuja Wang play Ludwig van Beethoven: Seven variations for Cello and Piano in E flat major on Mozart's "Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen" – Verbier Festival 2013
Frédéric Chopin: 24 Préludes, Op.28 – Yuja Wang (HD 1080p)
Béla Bartók: Piano Concerto No.1 in A major – Yuja Wang, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Esa-Pekka Salonen
Sergei Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.3 in D minor | Sergei Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No.2 in G minor – Yuja Wang, Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, Gustavo Dudamel (Audio video & Download 96kHz/24bit)
George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue – Yuja Wang, Camerata Salzburg, Lionel Bringuier
George Gershwin: Piano Concerto in F major | Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.5 in D minor – Yuja Wang, London Symphony Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas
Sergei Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.2 in C minor – Yuja Wang, Verbier Festival Orchestra, Yuri Termikanov (HD 1080p)
Yuja Wang and the Art of Performance
Maurice Ravel: Piano Concertos – Yuja Wang, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Lionel Bringuier (Audio video)
Sergei Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No.2 in G minor – Yuja Wang, Berliner Philharmoniker, Paavo Järvi
Yuja Wang plays Robert Schumann, Maurice Ravel and Ludwig van Beethoven at Verbier Festival 2016
Yuja Wang, the pianist who will not go quietly
Sergei Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No.3 in C major – Yuja Wang, Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Claudio Abbado
Leonidas Kavakos, violin & Yuja Wang, piano
Johannes Brahms: The Violin Sonatas – Leonidas Kavakos, Yuja Wang (Audio video)
Johannes Brahms: Sonata for piano and violin No.2 in A major – Yuja Wang, Leonidas Kavakos
Maurice Ravel: Sonata for violin and piano No.1 in A minor – Leonidas Kavakos, Yuja Wang
Ottorino Respighi: Violin Sonata in B minor – Leonidas Kavakos, Yuja Wang