Renaud Capucon on the composer Gabriel Faure | EUROtoday

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Der Tod des Komponisten Gabriel Fauré jährt sich 2024 zum hundertsten Mal. Der Geiger Renaud Capuçon war schon an der Gesamteinspielung von dessen Kammermusik maßgeblich beteiligt. Jetzt hat er als Dirigent und Geiger mit dem Orchester de Chambre de Lausanne eine CD mit Faurés Orchestersuiten und dessen konzertanten Werken aufgenommen (Deutsche Grammophon/Universal). Am Sonntag gibt er bei den Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspielen ein Konzert. Wir trafen uns vorab zum Gespräch.

Claude Debussy nannte seinen älteren Kollegen Gabriel Fauré, dem er dessen Erfolg in den adligen Salons von Paris neidete, einen Snob. Hatte er recht?

Ich weiß über den Menschen Fauré wenig, aber seine Musik ist alles andere als snobistisch. Ich entdeckte sie – seine erste Violinsonate und sein erstes Klavierquartett, um genau zu sein – im gleichen Alter, als ich auch Beethoven und Brahms für mich entdeckte. Sechs oder sieben Jahre conflict ich damals alt. Bis heute ist das für mich ein Höhepunkt der Kammermusik, das französische Äquivalent zu Brahms. Es gibt kein schwaches Werk bei Fauré. Er hält seine Höhe über das ganze Leben hinweg – und doch unterscheidet sich der späte Fauré vom frühen gravierend.

Trotzdem gibt es einige Werke, wie eben sein frühes Konzert für Violine und Orchester op. 14, das Sie nun als Solist und Dirigent aufgenommen haben, die kaum jemand kennt.

Ich wollte das seit langer Zeit spielen. Aber ich vergaß es im täglichen Betrieb immer wieder. Das Fauré-Jubiläum mit unserem CD-Vorhaben bot nun Gelegenheit, es endlich zu tun.

Warum wird es so selten gespielt?

Das kann ich mir nicht erklären. Es wird eigentlich gar nicht gespielt. Es gibt auch kaum Aufnahmen davon. Als ich das Clemens Trautmann, dem Chef der Deutschen Grammophon, erzählte, sagte er: „Was?! Wie das denn?!“ Für mich und das Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne war das eine vollkommene Neuentdeckung. Ich habe das Konzert kombiniert mit Faurés Suiten zu „Pelléas et Mélisande“, „Masques et Bergamasques“, mit der Ballade für Klavier und Orchester und mit der „Élégie“ für Violoncello. Wenn man Fauré hört, reist man direkt in die Zeit, in der seine Musik entstanden ist. Sie wird in all ihren Farben lebendig. Es ist die Welt der Pariser Salons um 1900. Und es ist schlimm, dass wir das Wort „Salon“ in Bezug auf Musik heute abwertend gebrauchen.

Renaud Capuçon spielt und dirigiert Musik von Gabriel Fauré. Orchestre de Chambre Lausanne. Deutsche Grammophon (Universal)
Renaud Capuçon plays and conducts music by Gabriel Fauré. Orchestre de Chambre Lausanne. Deutsche Grammophon (Universal)Deutsche Grammophon (Universal)

Frédéric Chopin hated the world of bourgeois paid concerts and said that good taste came from the salons.

Absolutely! In the Princess de Polignac's salon, in Fauré's time, the most interesting figures in music met. The composer Ethel Smyth also frequented it. I was just reading a very exciting book about it. And when I hear Fauré, I also see images in front of me: Édouard Manet, Eugène Boudin. And of course I hear poetry in my inner ear.

Fauré was friends with Ivan Turgenev, Paul Verlaine and Robert de Montesquiou, and had a keen sense for the verses of Charles Baudelaire and the Belgian Symbolists.

And Marcel Proust sought his company. I don't know exactly what status Fauré's art, his chamber music, his songs, have in Germany. But he is definitely worth studying.

I think it is difficult to play. The late Fauré in particular uses a tonality with several centres. Isn't that difficult to phrase? Where is the music heading?

When I heard the second, late violin sonata for the first time, I immediately fell in love with the piece, but – I didn't understand it, I just didn't get it. If you play this piece in a concert, ninety percent of the first-time listeners will feel the same. They find the piece complicated. It's the same with the string quartet, his last work, and his late piano pieces. You have to wait, listen to the music again, and then you'll eventually get the key. And if you turn it over, a completely different Fauré universe opens up, similar to late Beethoven, whose music sometimes seems crazy because it goes to extremes. Fauré shares Beethoven's fate of slowly losing his hearing. At the end of his life, he could no longer hear the very high and the very low register. That's why the action in his late work is concentrated in the middle range. But that leads to a particularly dense movement and enormous tension in the harmony.

In the Piano Trio op. 120, another late work, the violin plays in the low register in the second movement, but the cello plays in the high register.

A wonderful movement! This creates a great closeness between the two string instruments. It is very touching. A new quality of expression emerges from the physical handicap – that Fauré could no longer hear properly.

Gabriel Fauré, painted by John Singer Sargent around 1889
Gabriel Fauré, painted by John Singer Sargent around 1889Music Museum

How would you describe Fauré's position in music history? He was doubly overshadowed, firstly by his prominent teacher Camille Saint-Saëns, and secondly by his brilliant student Maurice Ravel.

During his lifetime he was a prominent figure, director of the Paris Conservatory. He was probably considered a little bourgeois. But he is a universe in and of himself alongside Saint-Saëns, Debussy and Ravel, just as Dutilleux, Dusapin and Escaich can stand side by side in our day. Of course, Ravel's “Boléro” will always remain more famous than any work by Fauré. But Fauré is the composer of real musical lovers. It's a bit like Robert Schumann: people who like Schumann usually love Fauré too.

Fauré loved Schumann: every time he visited Germany he went to his grave in Bonn.

I can't pinpoint exactly where Schumann's influences on Fauré lie, but there are so many connections between the two. The interplay of piano and violin in the first violin sonata is reminiscent of many of Schumann's songs, as is the “airiness”, the euphoric movement of the piano movement. The violin sonata has the opus number 13, the first piano quartet opus number 15, both early works, written almost at the same time, and in both you can hear this joyful departure, the euphoric. In the second piano quartet op. 45 it is a little different, in the second violin sonata it is completely different.

How would you describe the difference?

The first sonata is like a painting by Monet with clear, bright colors. The second is much darker, more mysterious. The early work lies before you like an open book. The late work forces you to search. You have to discover it yourself; it doesn't come to you.

When the young Fauré was asked what he was doing, he replied “Je m'occupe des belles choses” – “I occupy myself with beautiful things”.

Oh, that's fairly! You might nearly write that on a headstone.

What would he have stated about himself as an previous man?

He was nonetheless coping with the identical stunning issues of his youth, solely in a totally completely different approach, as a result of he now heard them in a different way. We will probably be performing all of Fauré's chamber music and his Requiem at my pageant in Évian this summer time. His piano quintet was written in Évian, his second violin sonata very shut by, additionally on Lake Geneva. I can not hearken to his music with out imagining him on this stunning, peaceable panorama, similar to Brahms, who wrote his second and third violin sonatas on Lake Thun in Switzerland. Thun will not be Évian, however the state of affairs is comparable. And this magnificence is present in Fauré's music, solely otherwise than in his early work. We all expertise that as we get older we be taught to understand magnificence in a totally completely different approach.

So the late work will not be darkish in any case?

The gloom is similar magnificence seen from a distinct angle. If you hearken to the gradual motion of his string quartet, his final work, it’s dramatic music. You hear a person who is aware of he’s going to die quickly, however on the similar time a person who appreciates the nice life he has had. Maybe I’m fallacious in my emotions, however I don’t hear any struggling on this music.