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Saturday, August 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Cellist Gautier Capuçon arrives for symphony performances

Courtesy of Spokane Symphony (Courtesy of Spokane Symphony)
Courtesy of Spokane Symphony (Courtesy of Spokane Symphony)
By Travis Rivers Correspondent

Gautier Capuçon grew up in Chambéry near the Swiss and Italian borders of eastern France. He began cello lessons at age 5 and piano lessons at 7.

Owing to the head start, perhaps, the cello won out (although he still likes playing jazz piano for fun).

Capuçon will play Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto No. 1 with the Spokane Symphony this weekend in a program that will also include Bizet’s “L’Arlésienne” Suite No. 1 and Dvorák’s “New World” Symphony. Music director Eckart Preu will conduct.

The Capuçon family also includes Gautier’s older brother, the violinist Renaud Capuçon with whom the cellist had made several recordings.

After studying cello in the conservatory in Chambéry, Capuçon studied in Paris with Philippe Muller at the Conservatory and later in master classes with Heinrich Schiff in Vienna. He was a member of the European Union Youth Orchestra and the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra playing under such conductors as Pierre Boulez and Bernard Haitink.

The 28-year-old cellist has won a number of international prizes including Germany’s ECHO Klassik Young Artist of the Year award in 2004 and France’s Victoires de la Musique in 2001.

His international career has taken him as soloist with major European and American orchestras, tours with his brother Renaud, and performances with other notable musicians such as Katia Labéque, Gabriela Montero and Martha Argerich.

Capuçon has recorded 15 albums for EMI’s Virgin Classic label including the Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev cello sonatas with Montero, who will be performing with the Spokane Symphony next season.

Capucon lives in Paris with his wife, cellist Delphine Dorsarello, and their daughter.

Saint-Saëns’ concerto was written when the composer was 37 years old and modeled on the cello concerto by Schumann and the violin concerto by Mendelssohn – but with more exuberant brilliance than either. It has proven one of the most popular concertos for cello.

Conductor Eckart Preu will begin this weekend’s concert with Georges Bizet’s highly popular Suite No. 1 from incidental music Bizet wrote for Alphonse Daudet’s play “L’Arlésienne,” a failure when it was first produced in 1872 and has since largely vanished from the stage, but Bizet’s music remains very popular in the two orchestral suites made from his score for the play.

Preu will conclude the concert with one of the most famous symphonies in the orchestral repertoire, Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”). Dvorak, the ultimate Czech composer (it was called Bohemia in his day), spent nearly three years in the United States as head of the National Conservatory in New York.

Dvorak worked hard to be a good musical citizen of the U.S. – he learned spirituals from his African-American students such as Henry T. Burleigh, listened to American Indian music and enjoyed American popular music.

All these elements turn up in the “New World” Symphony. The memorable melody of the symphony’s slow movement was later adopted by a Boston music editor who re-worked it into a spiritual titled “Goin’ Home.”

Preu and Capuçon will discuss the music on this weekend’s concerts one hour before the performance as a part of the symphony’s Gladys Brooks Pre-Concert Talks series.

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