The jewels in the crowns of various summer classical music and opera festivals – from Aix to Lucerne to Tanglewood – are their academies. Stars in the making promise to confer prestige on the institutions that launch them, while such musical incubators provide a steady flow of talent to be harnessed for future programmes. The Tsinandali Festival, the Georgian heir to Switzerland's Verbier Festival, has therefore made a smart move by setting up its own academy for its inaugural edition. As if the enterprise's backers needed reassuring of the wisdom of their investment, here was a concert from an illustrious trio of which two-thirds had come through the Verbier Festival Academy’s ranks.

Renaud Capuçon, Nicholas Angelich and Edgar Moreau © Tsinandali Festival
Renaud Capuçon, Nicholas Angelich and Edgar Moreau
© Tsinandali Festival

Festivals and academies breed familiarity and mutual compassion between audiences and returning artists. Yet the warmly informal feel of this concert owed mostly to the close relationships between the musicians themselves. The violinist Renaud Capuçon has partnered pianist Nicholas Angelich since the start of his professional career. Edgar Moreau, the 25-year-old cellist that burst onto the scene after winning the 2009 Rostropovich and coming second in the 2011 Tchaikovsky competitions, is a more recent but by now stable member of the gang.

Together they were beautifully poised. Capuçon's violin is sweet and lithe, Moreau's cello nutty and lively; the naturalness and joy with which they communicated onstage was infectious. But in Mendelssohn's Piano Trio no. 1 in D minor it is the piano that gets the lion's share of the sparkling music, and Angelich's was a lush yet contained sound that wrapped a comforting embrace around the two string players. As Moreau and Capuçon passed the sunny cantabile theme in the opening movement between themselves, Angelich stepped out of the glittering shadows of his creation to gently sweep it up, the cheerily whistling theme fading almost imperceptibly into windswept romanticism. A captivating journey as invigorating as it was meditative.

Renaud Capuçon, Nicholas Angelich and Edgar Moreau © Tsinandali Festival
Renaud Capuçon, Nicholas Angelich and Edgar Moreau
© Tsinandali Festival

What a fine player Angelich is. In the second movement, the pianist trickled in gentle throbs, easing into a rippling expanse above which Capuçon and Moreau darted like dragonflies weaving above a lake. They also paddled above the pianist's lightweight, lightning-quick flurry in the Scherzo, like the fairies later to be magicked-up in Mendelssohn's overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream. When Capuçon and Moreau provided rusticity in the folkish, Schubertian finale, Angelich added a dash of panache.

After this beautifully-formed miniature, players needed to go up a size for the opening movement Brahms' Piano Trio no.1 in B major that is symphonic in scale both for its length and richness of themes. They did just that, Capuçon and Moreau lobbing a broad melodic theme between them and gradually building to a sound of tempestuous intensity. In the Scherzo, Angelich provided steel to match the silky touch that had preceded, all three players impressively now dissolving into the pastoral theme that followed. Then for something special in the mysterious Adagio: the seemingly limitless expanses that were framed between Angelich's wide, tender chords inspired awe. After an invigorating finale, Capuçon and Moreau sounded almost indistinguishable in the parallel octaves that opened the encore of the Andante con moto from Brahms' C major Piano Trio, so total is their affinity. Just some of the fine talent Verbier has nurtured over the years. Now over to Tsinandali.


James' press trip to the Tsinandali Festival was funded by Premier Comms

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