Gautier Capucon is the 27-year-old younger brother of violinist Renaud Capucon. Both have been taken under the wing of Martha Argerich -- they can be heard on several installments of her summer chamber music from Lugano (on EMI). They also attracted attention with some award-winning Brahms piano trios, quickly becoming pets of the Gramophone (considering that Gautier looks like the Jean-Pierre Leaud of the cello, there's no wonder).
Now Gautier steps out with "the" cello concerto, a masterpiece of Dvorak's that every famous virtuoso has put his stamp on. We are awash in fine cellists at the moment, both young and old, so I wondered if Capucon could make his version sound distinctive. When paired with his brother and Argerich, he's quite intense, although his tone is smaller and sweeter than one hears from the likes of a superstar like Rostropovich. Temperamentally, he's not fiery but displays an appealing soulfulness, which is put to good use in the slow movement of the Dvorak. But at the outset Capucon is given a sadly dragging tempo by Paavo Jarvi, who is ordinary othrwise, and the Frankfurt orchestra is neither plush nor virtuosic.
Even so, Capucon holds one's attention. He has musical instincts and draws you in with his phrasing more than his power. This isn't a commanding Dvorak concerto, more a poetic one. There's more energy and vitality in Victor Herbert's Cto. #2, a favorite among cellists since the composer, himself a cello virtuoso, writes so well for the instrument. I find it an engaging but pretty slight work and enjoyed Capucon's performance while it was going on.
In the end, this CD isn't all that compelling given such stiff competition, and I don't think Capucon yet establishes a strong artistic profile. but he's appealing, and one never knows.