For decades, Wiener Symphoniker programmes have offered a very distinguished parade of soloists. But with the 2014-15 season an alternative approach to the steady coming and going of well-known violinists and cellists was established. Two Artists in Residence, the Renaud and Gautier Capuçon brothers, appeared in three sets of orchestral performances, first as a duo in Brahms' Double Concerto, then individually in Rihm's Violin Concerto and Strauss' Don Quixote.
A few days prior to or after these concert appearances, they performed in chamber music concerts with musicians from the orchestra. No longer wearing their "star finery", they took part in high-calibre chamber music collaborations with talented members of the Wiener Symphoniker's string and wind ensembles. Chamber music collaborations suit the Capuçons' musical intelligence to a tee: In addition to their solo careers, they are also engaging, top-notch chamber musicians. Their 2004 recording of Brahms' three Piano Trios with pianist Nicholas Angelich received a German Record Critics' Award. Their CD, "Inventions" (2006), featuring duos from Bach to Kreisler, was selected by ECHO Klassik as the Chamber Music Recording of the Year. And the brothers released a Saint-Saëns CD in 2013 on which they perform a congenial interpretation of the title to his little known work, La Muse et la Poète.
As an added attraction, one could also experience chief conductor, Philippe Jordan, in the role of pianist at the third chamber music concert. The former chief conductors, Wolfgang Sawallisch and Fabio Luisi, have previously amazed the public by showing that conductors are not merely "stick wavers", as one conductor pointedly described his profession recently. The truth is that conductors can also be solo instrumentalists of the highest calibre. This kind of heightened, collaborative music-making will surely bring with it new and rewarding experiences for practising musicians and listeners alike.