March 25, 2023

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Renaud Capuçon, violinist and producer

He was already a famous violinist. At 46, Renaud Capuçon is also a businessman. To serve the music, of course. The artist, simultaneously soloist, festival organizer, chamber musician or professor in Lausanne, will now be, as a bonus, a producer.

With Stéphane Courbit and his company Banijay, the musician has just created “Beau Soir” Productions, a name he borrowed from a Debussy melody. The idea? “Short-scale young talent,” says Renaud Capuçon, who is following in the footsteps of his friend, chef Claudio Abbado, who is now deceased.

At Fidel Castro’s table

The violinist says he himself is one of those young people that the Italian maestro has “launched” in his orchestras. The time, for example, at 23, to be invited with the musicians of the Gustav Mahler Jugend Orchestra directed by the master, at Fidel Castro’s, smoking cigars, surrounded by soldiers armed to the teeth.

Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboïm, Pierre Boulez… Renaud Capuçon worked alongside the greatest, upon leaving the Paris Conservatory at the age of 17. “It is very important for me to be able to give back what I have received,” he slips. A smile. A sip of black coffee. With a laughing eye, he evokes a matter of friendships, of transmission towards these raw talents, underlines the richness of encounters, of dialogue between generations.

Beau Soir is home to six young French, Danish, Belgian artists… whom the violinist will shed light by sharing, with them, the stage and the star. Piano, viola, violin, cello… his company also plans to record them. “At the dawn of a career, finding commitments is often difficult. And you have to be ready mentally, nervously… They need to be supported, advised, ”assures Renaud Capuçon. Him, to whom Isaac Stern had whispered, one day, during a masterclass, that you have to come on stage: “and say with your body, your heart: ‘Listen to me!’ »

Turnkey gigs

But Beau Soir Productions also wants, through these “key concerts in hands” to bring classical music to places where it usually does not enter. “Production of records, shows, coaching… the structure is a vessel to which satellites can be attached. In classical music, this type of toolbox is rare”, specifies the violinist-entrepreneur. And this hyperactive, with a “delirious” curiosity, fascinated by politics and a cinema lover, to add “I like to invent stuff”. On his hunting board, figure, for example, the creation in 2013 of the Easter Festival of Aix-en-Provence.

This Savoyard, son of a customs official and older brother of the cellist Gauthier Capuçon, was conquered by music at the Les Arcs festival but also on television, when the host of the “ Grand Echiquier” Jacques Chancel lent his microphone to stars such as Yehudi Menuhin or Pablo Casals. He was four years old when he discovered the violin, on the advice of a teacher. “I am of an anxious nature. Music reassures me and I’ve always liked the sound of the violin,” he says, obviously. There followed hours of tireless work, where with rigor, braving fatigue, by passion, by faith, he became a monk soldier. Ultra-organized to counter anxiety, the artist juggles, at the frantic pace of more than a hundred concerts a year, between the whirlwind of the stage, rehearsals and hotel nights from Berlin to Tokyo. With a draconian lifestyle… with the exception of chocolate in his dressing room. And with a lot of micro-naps, he who only sleeps four to five hours a night.

Paul Eluard and JFK

During the great vertigo of the first confinement, the husband of the journalist Laurence Ferrari, with whom he has a son, posted short music videos on social networks every morning, garnering fans by the thousands. “When you love music, it’s endless”, launches this eclectic spirit who goes from Paul Eluard, whose poems he buys at will to the thrillers of Joël Dicker, collects pens, admires JFK and says he’s crazy about ski.

“He is a boy who is interested in the world around him, artistic, geopolitical, cinematographic, says Thierry Frémaux, delegate General of the Cannes Film Festival. He is hypersensitive. And although he is of a high caliber, still speaks to people without making them feel inferior. »

“Viscount of Panette”

A great lover of fine wine, but also of raclette, blueberry tart and Beaufort, the man, who has his statue at the Grévin museum, remains from a disconcerting simplicity… “He is very modest”, continues Thierry Fremaux. However, Renaud Capuçon, who has absolute pitch, also has that of the powerful. Did he not pray, young, during a lunch, the President Jacques Chirac to please wash his hands before touching his violin? The legend says that the table froze in front of so much insolence. But the Head of State burst out laughing… and executed.

Since 2005, Renaud Capuçon has been playing a 1737 Guarnerius, nicknamed the “Viscount of Panette” after one of its owners, and which was Isaac Stern’s violin. He too considers himself “passing through the history of the instrument”, happy to “let himself be inspired, influenced by the personality” that the violin, by dint of memory, “has built over the course of his life”… another kind of transmission.