Gautier Capuçon is widely recognised as one of the foremost cellists of his generation and has received consistently high critical praise for his recordings and performances. 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 (the French equivalent of a Grammy) in 2001; in 2004 he received a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award since which time he has received several Echo Klassik awards, most recently for his recording of Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev with Gergiev and for his recording of Fauré’s complete chamber music.
Capuçon performs regularly as a soloist with the major orchestras worldwide, and is a favourite of conductors at the highest level including Gergiev, Dudamel, Bychkov, Haitink, Chung, Dutoit, Eschenbach, Nelsons and Nézet-Séguin. In recent seasons, concerto highlights have included orchestras such as LA Philharmonic, Seattle, Boston, Chicago Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic, London Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Vienna Symphony and the Deutsche Symphony Orchestra with whom he toured Europe. A regular recital and chamber musician, Capuçon appears in the major halls and festivals across Europe, and every year at the Verbier Festival and at Project Martha Argerich, Lugano, performing with many of the world’s leading artists such as Barenboim, Bashmet, Caussé, Kavakos, Kirchschlager, Pletnev, Pressler, Thibaudet, Znaider, his brother Renaud and many others including those with whom he has recorded (see below).
In the 13/14 season, debuts include the Concertgebouw Orchestra/Bychkov, New York Philharmonic/ Boreyko and the Staatskapelle Dresden/Eschenbach in Dresden and the Salzburg Easter Festival. Other highlights include the Munich Philharmonic/Bychkov – both in Munich and at the Enescu Festival in Bucharest – with Sydney Symphony/Bringuier, Boston Symphony/Dutoit, Chamber Orchestra of Europe/Haitink in Amsterdam, Paris and the Lucerne Festival, with Mariinsky Orchestra/Gergiev at Salle Pleyel (Paris), NHK Symphony Orchestra/Dutoit, and in China with China Philharmonic and Guangzhou Symphony. In recital, Capuçon will perform with Frank Braley in the major venues in Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Vienna and Seoul, and with Yuja Wang in a recital tour of Japan.
Capuçon records exclusively for Erato (Warner Classics). His recordings include the Dvořák Concerto with Frankfurt Radio Symphony/Paavo Järvi, Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations and Prokofiev Sinfonia Concertante with Mariinsky Theatre/Gergiev, the Brahms Double Concerto with his brother Renaud and Mahler Youth Orchestra/Chung, and the Haydn Cello Concertos with Mahler Chamber Orchestra/Harding. He has recorded several discs of chamber music with Martha Argerich, Frank Braley, Nicholas Angelich, Renaud and others, and the Rachmaninov and Prokofiev Cello Sonatas with Gabriela Montero. His most recent releases include a recital disc of music by Schubert, Schumann, Debussy, Britten and Carter with Frank Braley, and Saint-Saëns First Cello Concerto and Muse et le poète with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France/Bringuier, and in 2013 Deutsche Gramophone released a DVD featuring Capuçon as soloist with the Berlin Philharmonic/Dudamel in a live performance of Haydn’s first Cello Concerto.
As a partner of Gautier Capuçon, Colas co-produced, along with Virgin Classics, his latest recording with Gergiev and participated in the purchase of a Dominique Peccatte Bow. Since 2007 Gautier Capuçon has been an Ambassador for Zegna & Music project which was founded in 1997 as a philanthropic activity to promote music and its values. Gautier Capuçon plays a 1701 Matteo Goffriller.
Gautier Capuçon is represented by Intermusica.
2013-14 season / 578 words. Not to be altered without permission. Please destroy all previous biographical material.
New York Philharmonic / Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1
Avery Fisher Hall / cond. Andrey Boreyko
“Mr. Capuçon played the work beautifully, negotiating its difficulties with seeming ease.”
James R. Oestreich, New York Times, January 2014
Sydney Symphony / Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No.1
Sydney Opera House / cond. Lionel Bringuier
“Gautier Capucon played Saint-Saens Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Opus 33 with the best elements of French instrumental playing - a tightly focused sound, transparent clarity, phrasing of inscrutable neatness and a feeling for expressive beauty without heaviness…Capucon and conductor Lionel Bringuier made of it a mellifluous, well-balanced structure, guided always by the logic of the melodic line. Capucon's distinctive tone easily cut through the orchestra (a tribute to him and to Saint-Saens' skill as an orchestrator), yet he could also draw the listener in by speaking in hushed tones, as in the start of archaic minuet which Saint-Saens uses as a slow movement.”
Peter McCallum, Sydney Morning Herald, October 2013
San Francisco Symphony / Dvorak Cello Concerto
Davies Symphony Hall / cond. Juraj Valčuha
“Capuçon was also clearly in sympathy with Valčuha’s rhetorical stance. On this last SFS visit about two years ago, he performed Henri Dutilleux’ five-movement cello concerto “Tout un monde lointain…” with Charles Dutoit conducting, a composition distinguished by its subtlety in sonority. This required impeccable technical skill, which had little to do with the expressive virtuosity of nineteenth-century performance styles. The Dvořák concerto thus allowed Capuçon to explore and present a different side of his personality as a soloist, approaching each of the composer’s phrases with the same boldness that Valčuha elicited from the orchestra while bringing impeccable skill to the many technically demanding passages. This was a concerto performance through which one could appreciate the meeting of the minds of soloist and conductor, along with committed support from the ensemble… The concert also included an encore by Capuçon after his concerto performance. This was an arrangement for solo cello by Gregor Piatigorsky of the March from Sergei Prokofiev’s Opus 65 collection of twelve easy pieces for piano entitled Music for Children, composed in 1935. (This particular piece was then selected as the opening of the 1941 orchestral suite Summer Day, all of whose movements come from Opus 65.) Capuçon turned a simple piece for a beginning pianist into a stunning display of cello virtuosity; but he never compromised Prokofiev’s prankish attitude, which must have been intended to attract children to this music. Capuçon’s performance made for a refreshing breeze of fresh air after his outpouring of Dvořák’s passionate expressiveness. ”
Stephen Smoliar, Examiner.com, May 2013
International Chamber Music Series / Shostakovich Piano Trio No. 2 & Messiaen Quatuor pour la fin du temps
Queen Elisabeth Hall / with Renaud Capuçon, Denis Kozhukhin, Jörg Widmann
“The works were performed by world-renowned musicians – French brothers Renaud and Gautier Capuçon (violin and cello respectively), Denis Kozhukhin (piano) and Jörg Widmann (clarinet). They offered a highly emotional, profound and concentrated performance which demonstrated their commitment to and understanding of this difficult, meaningful repertoire… An anguished lament, redolent of peasant music, opens the first movement [of the Shostakovich], heard in the cello in ghostly harmonics, superbly nuanced by Gautier Capuçon… This was a devastatingly powerful rendition of Shostakovich's music, all three performers marshalling the full weight of their technical and expressive forces to give a performance that was both compelling and heart-rending… As in the Shostakovich, the technical demands of the [Quatuor pour la fin du temps] held no fear for these skilled musicians… The overall effect was searing, painful, beautiful. To see, and hear, four musicians so fully engaged in this timeless and transcendent music was extraordinarily powerful, and it seems appropriate to paraphrase Messiaen himself to describe the reaction of the audience: never before had we listened with such attention and understanding. The standing ovation at the end of the work was richly deserved: this was chamber music of the highest order.”
Francis Wilson, One Stop Arts, May 2013
The Fauré Project / Wigmore Hall
“Gautier was superb in the First Cello Sonata, capturing its bleak, dramatic range in playing of great expressive power… The Second Cello Sonata bristled with vitality and had that recognisable hit of French sensibility that hovers on the brink of sensuality. [Nicholas Angelich] and Gautier Capuçon seemed to be feeding each other their lines in a magnificently dovetailed performance of the first movement, and the cello’s role in the lament-like slow movement was fiercely eloquent and inside the music… [In the second Piano Quartet], their playing in the Adagio summed up Fauré’s inimitable style of reverie, intimacy and melancholy with great refinement. The sort of playing that left you gagging for more…”
Peter Reed, Classical Source, May 2013
Philharmonique de Radio France / cond. Bringuier / Salle Pleyel / Saint-Saens
“The highlight of the evening was Saint Saens’ Cello Concerto when conductor Bringuier now essentially became Gautier Capucon’s accompanist, following in his weightless footsteps. In turn both precise and poetic, the 32-year-old cellist united flexibility and mastery, which never hindered the phrasing of the music but, on the contrary, created an intoxicating sense of freedom.”
Laurent Vilarem, La Lettre du Musicien, January 2013
Chamber Orchestra of Europe / cond. Nézet-Séguin / SchumannLondon Symphony Orchestra / cond. Gergiev / Wiener Konzerthaus / Tchaikovsky
“Between the two symphonies, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the young maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin gave the jewel in the crown to Gautier Capuçon with Schumann’s cello concerto in A minor Op.129. His performance was light and agile: the accompaniment at the beginning of the initial ‘Nicht zu schnell’ section set the tone for an interpretation that was very much in the vein of a chamber music performance. It was delightful to watch the cellist turning towards the orchestra in complete complicity, to pluck the beginning of his solos out of their sound. The end result was enchantingly lyrical, but never languid or sombre; a thousand miles from the all-too-often morbidly crepuscular performances of this piece. This was pure poetry.”
Alain Cochard, Concert Classic, November 2012
“30-year-old Frenchman Gautier Capuçon is, despite his tender age, one of the leading cellists of our time. […] Capuçon not only possesses with his 1701 Gofriller cello one of the most perfect instruments ever built, but he also knows how to get the best out of it. Already with the opening theme, he enthralled the audience by the sheer beauty of his playing.
The audience in the sold-out Konzerthaus went crazy after Gautier Capuçon ended his last variation at break-neck speed. Capuçon and Gergiev chose Tchaikovsky’s Andante Cantabile as encore. Capuçon, with his stunning bow technique, can work magic!”
Wiebke Kuester, Concerto Net, May 2012
Wigmore Hall, London with Jérôme Ducros
“As a former pupil of Heinrich Schiff, Gautier Capuçon has absorbed his master’s formidable arsenal of bowing techniques. In the Bridge Cello Sonata he showed supreme control[…]
The scherzo erupted with an energetic brutality in this interpretation, making the ensuing greyness of the Largo all the more dramatic. Intense and tortuous anguish yielded to their evocation of whimsical irony in the finale, which concluded this compelling recital.”
Joanne Talbot, The Strad, May 2012
RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra / cond. McCreesh / Elgar
“It was these intensely human features that young cellist Gautier Capuçon communicated in a performance of beautiful sincerity. His tone was firm and voice-like, and he tapped into the music’s emotional content without resorting to the various tropes of string solo playing.”
Michael Dungan, The Irish Times, April 2012
Chicago Symphony Orchestra / cond. Dutoit / Dutilleux
“…another Capuçon makes another brilliant Chicago début[…]
Dutoit was able to pull these devotions together with the CSO début of the highly-skilled and charismatic Savoyard French cellist Gautier Capuçon […]
Capuçon brought out the score’s every technical and emotional aspect in a performance both commanding and highly subtle of the composer’s 1967-70 Tout un monde lointain . . . (“A whole distant world . . . “).
Capuçon […] and his 1701 Matteo Goffriller instrument had every sense of volume, variation, and shading down cold and received total and attentive silence in the work’s involved pizzicato sections and long pianissimos followed by a loud and long audience ovation.”
Andrew Patner, Chicago Sun-Times, April 2012
“Capuçon had special qualities of his own to bring to his performance on Thursday night. Not the least of these was the finely graded intensity he brought to the long cello recitative that begins the work and that soon evolves into rapid-fire interplay with the orchestra. The cellist's lean but penetrating sound and rhythmic acuity were matched by an abundance of lyrical feeling, particularly in the two slow movements. This was an altogether winning debut […]”
John van Rhein, Chicago Tribune, April 2012
“Capuçon’s poetic performance encompassed the inward-looking reflection as surely as the hectic bravura.
Playing an extraordinary 1701 Goffriller instrument, the French cellist coaxed a striking array of widely terraced hues and dynamics, with high pianissimos that hovered on the edge of audibility. Yet the soloist also brought a bristling propulsion and headlong excitement to the display passages, with a sense of hard-won solace in the penultimate section.
Capuçon received a vocal and enthusiastic ovation, all the more impressive for being elicited by this austere and enigmatic work.”
Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review, April 2012
Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia / cond. Pérez / Dvořák
“…exceptional performance by the cellist Capuçon in the concerto by Dvořák. An ideal interpreter for this piece because of his beautiful cantabile and his ability to extract the most noble sonority from an extraordinary instrument: a Matteo Goffriller of 1701.”
Julio Andrade Malde, La Opinión A Coruña, five stars, April 2012
Dresden Philharmonic / cond. de Burgos / Avery Fisher Hall, New York / Dvořák
“The orchestra's palette of color was featured best in the Dvořák, Frühbeck providing a sensitive accompaniment to the rhapsodic account of Gautier Capuçon. […] He has a gorgeous tone and impeccable technique […]”
Elizabeth Barnette, Classical Source, March 2012
Boston Symphony Orchestra / cond. Dutoit / Dutilleux Tout un monde lointain
“Henri Dutilleux’s Tout un monde lointain (“A whole distant world”) for cello and orchestra, had young soloist Gautier Capuçon brooding against an orchestral backdrop of modern manifestations.
Thirty-one-year-old Capuçon, on his 1701 Matteo Goffriller cello — an instrument that surprised with its capacity for a good deal of power if […] — spun out the soul-searching circles of Dutilleux. Capuçon effusively seized the striving and the unattainable state that is everywhere expressed in the five-movement concerto-like work (dating from 1970).”
David Patterson, The Boston Musical Intelligencer, February 2012
“Capucon was calmly charismatic throughout, conveying direction and life in small details like his tightly coiled pizzicato but also flourishing in the many quiet floating passages, which he rendered with uncommon clarity in stratospheric registers.”
Jeremy Eichler, Boston Globe, February 2012
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Arpeggione: Britten, Debussy, Schubert, Schumann (Erato)
With Frank Braley, piano
“A model undertaking - thoughtful, highly dramatic and played with precision and grace. Schumann's "Five Pieces in Folk Style" gets a robust and personable reading, with just the right balance of humor and expressive sincerity, and the Debussy sonata sounds pointed yet sweet in Capuçon's account. Perhaps the most striking performance comes at the end, with a rendition of the Britten Sonata that brings out the full emotional and technical range of the work.”
Joshua Cosman, SF Gate, March 2014
“this is an account full of mesmerizing cello playing and breath-catching incident, delivered without any sense of panic, even in the the most taxing passages. Capuçon and Braley are equally compelling in the five Schumann pieces, revealing the fleeting, sorrowful irony of the Langsam movement persuasively enough, while bringing an uncommon piquancy and effusiveness to faster sections… Unsurprisingly, their reading of the Debussy Sonata is superlative… Capuçon and Braley make an ideally balanced and unified partnership, giving one of the finest accounts I’ve yet heard of this elusive and sometimes problematic sonata.”
Michael Jameson, International Record Review, February 2014
“As they make clear in the sleeve notes, Gautier Capuçon and Frank Braley designed the programme on this disc as a tribute to Mstislav Rostropovich and Benjamin Britten, who made extraordinary recordings of these works together in the 1960s and early 70s. On their own terms, these performances are wonderfully achieved, too. Their account of Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata is airy and buoyant, and they adopt a robust and rustic approach to Schumann's Five Pieces in Folk Style Op 102…and they reveal Britten's work as one of the 20th century's greatest works for cello and piano, spanning a huge emotional range… Capuçon's tone twists from lingering nostalgia to no-nonsense assertiveness. It's a considerable achievement.”
Andrew Clements, Guardian, December 2014
Saint-Saëns: Cello Concerto No.1, Violin Concerto No.3, La Muse et le Poète (EMI)
With Renaud Capuçon, Lionel Bringuier, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France
“If the composer’s voice in this piece seems less individual than in the later Third Violin Concerto, it’s played with no less belief and commitment by Gautier Capuçon. I find him particularly persuasive in the last and longest movement, where he gives the impression of really sinking into the strings with imploring weight, only to pull back to something far more intimate a matter of a few bars later.”
Andrew Morris, International Record Review, December 2013
“Splendid in the ascending false harmonics, Gautier Capuçon possesses fantastic bowing virtuosity, from the ascending spiccato double-stops to the floating descending arpeggio figures. Equally he has the taste to deliver the captivating melodies with nuance, and yet maintains a tactful restraint to prevent the music sliding into the obvious”.
Joanne Talbot, The Strad, January 2014
The European Concert (Deutsche Grammophone: DVD)
Haydn Cello Concerto No.1 with Gustavo Dudamel / Berlin Philharmonic
“the DVD's undoubted highlight is its Haydn centrepiece, with Gautier Capucon offering a witty, refined and overtly virtuoso account of the C major Concerto, very alertly accompanied . . . [he] draws elegantly tailored lines from his instrument, especially in the central Adagio. Suave and good-looking . . . he cuts a stylish profile and inspires a welter of enthusiastic applause from the audience...”
Rob Cowan, Gramophone, August 2013
“Capucon projects the Haydn with an almost ideal blend of elegance and showmanship and there's some dazzling off-the-string passagework in the finale.”
Erik Levi, BBC Music Magazine, August 2013
Fauré: Complete Chamber Music (Virgin Classics)
With Renaud Capuçon, Michel Dalberto, Nicholas Angelich & Gérard Caussé
“No.1. ‘Classical music’s top albums of 2011’…
A five-disc set in which first-rate French musicians tastefully survey the late-Romantic chamber music of Gabriel Fauré in vibrant and probing performances, one after another.”
Jeremy Eichler, The Boston Globe, December 2011
“No.1 ‘Best Classical 2011’ – ‘Top 100 Albums of 2011’
…this outstanding set of solo sonatas, quartet and quintets features some of the best French musicians of our time: the violinist/cellist Capuçon brothers […]”
Hugh Canning, Sunday Times, December 2011
“Best Classical Recordings of 2011
Chamber works by Fauré are performed by a magnificent line-up of French and French-trained musicians.”
WFMT, December 2011
“Most convincing on the new set is the finale of [the Cello Sonata No.1], where Gautier Capuçon’s tone can really soar.
The reading of the Trio by the Capuçon brothers with Angelich is one of the best things here: fervent, joyous and weaving an aural coat of many colours in the Andantino.
…the cello’s famous Elégie and the Pièce […] are unfailingly beautifully conveyed.”
Harriet Smith, Gramophone, December 2011
“This all-French celebrity team approach Fauré with the seriousness of purpose he deserves. They power the music from within, strongly delineating the rhythms, balancing their roles with stylish naturalness.
Crowning glories include an incandescent account of the late Cello Sonata No.2 from Gautier with Angelich […]
Fabulous Fauré playing, with all the intelligence, strength of character and profound understanding that his still underrated chamber music requires.”
Jessica Duchen, Classic FM Magazine, five stars, December 2011
“An exquisite cast […]”
Dr Stefan Drees, klassik.com, five stars, November 2011
“A triumphant set of Fauré’s complete chamber music for strings[...]
Cellist Gautier Capuçon brings robust playing, with an earthy tone and a way with big rhetorical gestures, to the two cello sonatas.
In the Second Sonata Capuçon covers a wide emotional landscape with persuasive fluency. There is some magical sotto voce playing in the central movement, and terrific duo work with Angelich in the finale.”
Tim Homfray, The Strad, November 2011
Tchaikovsky: Variations on a rococo theme/ Prokofiev: Sinfonia Concertante (Virgin Classics)
Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre, cond. Gergiev
“Capuçon's interpretation of the slow section of the scherzo is one of the loveliest imaginable [...] a performance that communicates with innate understanding. Whether quizzical, rapturous, pensive or demonstrative, Capuçon has full measure of it here in a performance of impressive stature.”
Geoffrey Norris, Daily Telegraph, five stars, January 2010
Dvořák & Herbert: Cello Concertos (Virgin Classics)
Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, cond. Järvi
“Gautier Capuçon gives a richly lyrical and sympathetic account of Herbert's concerto, reaching heights of eloquence in its beguiling slow movement and revelling in the virtuosity of the finale.”
BBC Music Magazine, March 2009
“This is not the first coupling of these works, but it is perhaps the most distinguished. The works have much in common and Gautier Capuçon makes the most of the music's melodic appeal. The Dvořák receives a powerful and intense interpretation with some superb orchestral solos to match the soloist's eloquence.”
Sunday Telegraph, February 2009
“Gautier Capuçon captures the [Herbert’s] rhapsodic ambitions and the lyrical charm of its slow movement perfectly.”
Andrew Clements, Guardian, February 2009
Brahms: Piano Quartets (Virgin Classics)
With Renaud Capuçon, Gérard Caussé & Nicholas Angelich
“Marvellously full-blooded accounts of some of Brahms’s most passionate chamber music.”
BBC Music Magazine, Recommended Disc, November 2010
“[...] performances here are both beautiful and individual, with passionate, rich-toned playing and infectious energy […] an easy first choice for a complete set of these wonderful quartets […] can hold their own with the finest available recordings.”
International Record Review, February 2009
Rachmaninov & Prokofiev: Cello Sonatas (Virgin Classics)
With Gabriela Montero
“My opinion of the French cellist Gautier Capuçon rises with every new CD he produces. Here, rapturously partnered by Montero on piano, he irradiates Rachmaninov's early, gloriously romantic sonata to the point where you just have to stop thinking and wallow instead in the composer's inspiration. That's not to suggest Capuçon and Montero go overboard: they simply find the right voice for Rachmaninov's passionate lines and nervous tension. A wonderful disc.”
Andrew Clark, Financial Times, February 2008
Brahms: Double Concerto (Virgin Classics)
Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, with Renaud Capuçon
“Here's a very fine reading of Brahms's Double Concerto from the stellar young Capuçon brothers. They seem incapable of setting a foot wrong on disc and they put their considerable chamber-music experience to great use in Brahms's final orchestral work, with Gautier Capuçon proving an eloquent lead in the vehement first movement.”
Harriet Smith, Gramophone, February 2008
“There's something totally compelling about this performance of the Double Concerto from the first few bars, when Gautier Capuçon launches into the opening cello solo with a rhapsodic freedom and expressive abandon that seems to sweep all before it [...] exceptional Brahms playing.”
Andrew Clements, Guardian, five stars, November 2007
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