January 7, 2019. With the 2019 Golden Globes behind us and Oscar nominations just ahead, we turn to film music for our Classical Album of the Week. Cinema, recently released by Erato/Warner Classics, features French star violinist Renaud Capuçon and the Brussels Philharmonic led by conductor Stéphane Denève. It's filled with some of the most memorable melodies from the silver screen.
Capuçon is well-known for his interpretations of serious concerto and chamber music repertoire; he’s tackled Bartók, Debussy, and contemporary composers such as Wolfgang Rihm and Pascal Dusapin in his recent discography.
As a classical musician, he admits having had some initial reservations about recording popular music. It was only after “studying different scores, and encountering great living composers such as Alexandre Desplat and Vladimir Cosma,” that he “changed his mind” and dove into the “cinematic universe” with “enthusiasm, nostalgia and passion.”
Capuçon brings the glorious tone of his 1737 “Panette” Guarnerius (formerly belonging to Isaac Stern) to such classics as Morricone’s Cinema Paradiso, Mancini’s “Moon River” from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Rota’s “Love Theme” from The Godfather.
His “Romance” from Korngold’s Adventures of Robin Hood brings to mind his dazzling performance last season with the Philadelphia Orchestra of Korngold’s Violin Concerto. An infectious, Klezmer-like spirit imbues Vladimir Cosma’s theme from the 1972 French comedy, The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe.
French popular singer Nolwenn Leroy makes an appearance with Capuçon in Bob Telson’s “Calling You” from Bagdad Café. Film music from the past two decades is winningly represented in Piovani’s Life is Beautiful, Tiersen’s Amélie, Desplat’s “New Moon” from the Twilight saga.
Capuçon couldn’t have found a more ideal partner for Cinema than the Brussels Philharmonic with its Music Director Stephane Dénève (who is also principal guest conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra.)
Dénève, a champion of film composers, says, “What is great about film music is that it’s full of great tunes. And I have to say, for me — a great melody is the Holy Grail of music.”
Perhaps the most haunting melody of all on this engaging album is John Williams’ Theme from Schindler’s List. Capuçon’s rendition will remind you that the finest film music allows one to feel a story's deepest emotions — sometimes unspeakable emotions — that moving images alone can't tell.