Masterclass with Renaud Capucon

Renaud Capucon (image from EMI Classics website)

Earlier this week, I was fortunate enough to attend a masterclass by young violinist Renaud Capucon.

I’ve participated in a few masterclasses in the past and I remember being extremely nervous.  It’s a wonderful and rare opportunity to get feedback from a world class professional solo violinist, but I remember the challenge of trying to break my mould and fixed ways to try what the masterclass teacher is asking.  I was keen to go this to hear Renaud’s approach to music and the violin.

So at this masterclass, four violinists ranging in age from 14 to mid twenties played for Renaud, organised by UWA, ECU, AUSTA and WASO.

The violinists all played well.  Renaud, dress smart casual in a jacket and jeans, was animated and friendly. In fact, quite good looking according to some female audience members 🙂    A lot of his teaching style reminded me of Maxim Vengerov’s masterclasses, and my ex-teacher Paul Eder – trying to capture the essence and personification of music interpretation through the use of imagery.  

And that was the main thing I took away from the masterclass – most of his comments centered around how to move to the next level – in my mind, from “playing music” to “making music”.  After all, music should be an expression of the soul.  Sure, notes and technique are important, like the foundations to build a sturdy building.  But it’s not real “music” until you put your heart into it.

If it’s a Mozart violin concerto, the phrases should sing like different people singing a conversation.

If it’s a showy virtuosic piece, it shouldn’t be played like a study of technical work, but blow your socks off.

Sure, trying to get the violinists to try different ways of playing by describing images to them, or making them move in certain ways, is good and the violin students that night were able to adapt in varying degrees. 

But for me, the best parts of the evening was when Renaud took out his violin (I’m guessing he had his Guarneri del Gesu there!) and showed how he would play it.

And that…

was..

magic.

I thought the violinist who played the Mozart A major concerto played with great detail and care.  But when Renaud played the opening phrase, it was sublime – the tone so warm, the phrasing and control perfect – one big soaring singing line.   That’s the difference…

Suddenly nearly 2 and a half hours it was all over.  I was definitely impressed with the little of Renaud’s playing I heard and his approach to music and Mozart in particular, and inspired to go home and pick up the violin again! 

In fact, it’s probably time to start thinking of the next big work to learn.  I’m feeling in the mood for some Carmen at the moment!

More info:

Renaud Capucon’s biography here:  http://www.emiclassics.com/artistbiography.php?aid=102 and http://www.intermusica.co.uk/capucon

Great interview with Renaud Capucon by Aart van der Wal – http://www.musicweb-international.com/Sandh/2010/Jan-Jun10/Renaud_Capucon.htm

This weekend’s WASO concert featuring Renaud playing the Korngold Violin Concerto and Ravel’s Tzigane – http://www.waso.com.au/EventDetail.aspx?ProductID=2431

Rebecca White playing the Carmen Fantasy with the FCO this weekend – http://members.iinet.net.au/~hug1/fco/

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