Gabriel Fauré ought to feature prominently on a list of the great teachers of composition.
It is fortunate, therefore, that he lived long enough to witness the success of Maurice Ravel, and doubly fortunate that the music of his star pupil exerted as profound an influence on him as his lessons had on the younger man.
Chamber music was a crucial element of this remarkable symbiosis, and the two composers’ piano trios bookended this impressive concert by the brothers Capuçon and the pianist Michel Dalberto.
The technical glitter of the Ravel was delivered with just the right nonchalant precision, and the third-movement passacaglia’s ascetic aura was captured effectively in the only genuinely pianissimo piano playing of the evening.
Though less overtly virtuosic, Fauré’s late work (completed in 1923) is the more difficult of the two to bring off in performance, the master mélodiste tempering the lyricism of the first two movements with an eager, rhythmic finale that is never quite allowed off the leash.
A lifetime of making music together was evident in the Capuçons’ seamlessly matched melodic weight and faultless intonation – the opening Allegro ma non troppo, a miniature masterpiece of sinuous extended phrases and delicate harmonic shifts, receiving a particularly affectionate performance.
Between these we heard Brahms’s opus 87 trio, which received a suitably hefty but overall less persuasive interpretation.
Beautiful playing, yes, but missing that spark of emotional engagement that made the performances of the French repertoire so outstanding.