Destination Paris

Destination Paris

Paris—city of love, city of lights, and steeped in music: French cellist Gautier Capuçon’s love letter to his home city is a whirlwind tour of the opera houses, jazz clubs, salons, cinemas, and cabarets that have attracted the great composers and artists over the past 300 years. Gautier takes us from the “Habanera” from Bizet’s opera Carmen, first performed at the Paris Opera in 1875, all the way to singer-songwriter Joe Dassin’s classic 1960s song “Les Champs-Élysées” via Rameau, Ravel, and Offenbach. Every track has a connection to the city and its inhabitants past and present, with an emphasis on French vocal music, arranged by Capuçon’s long-time collaborator, the pianist Jérôme Ducros. “These are pieces which are in the hearts of French people, they’re really part of French culture,” Capuçon explains to Apple Music Classical. “When you hear a song by Edith Piaf, which is so much linked to her, and the personality in her voice, which was so special, it’s difficult to hear it sung by another singer,” he continues. “But, when you hear it played on the cello, it’s the instrument that’s closest to the human voice. It’s so beautiful to be able to play. Of all the classic arrangements we’ve done, vocal music—French song, and especially opera—always works so well, because when you hear the cello, you can also hear the voice.” The voice takes center stage in album’s most unexpected track: a world-premiere recording written by retired French singer-songwriter, Jean-Jacques Goldman, performed by hundreds of young musicians from across the country, accompanied by Capuçon. Goldman left the music scene in the early 2000s, but has remained popular in France. “It’s incredible, everybody loves him,” says Capuçon, who inherited his fondness for the singer from his sister’s teenage listening habits. “She’s 10 years older than me and she was such a big fan. She listened to his songs all day long, which means that I, from the age of five or six, was also a big fan. I grew up with all of his songs. And when I thought about this recording, I wanted to play his song ‘Envole-moi,’ but I also wanted him to write something for me.” This wasn’t just a personal passion project for Capuçon: the cellist is heavily invested in the lives of young musicians in France as an ambassador for Orchestre à l’École Association, a program bringing music into schools and reaching more than 42,000 children. The chance to inspire the next generation through Goldman’s cheerful songwriting was too much to resist. “I sent him a letter,” explains Capuçon, “hoping he would compose a song for all these young people. And you know what? He answered me and he said, ‘I’m not writing any more, but I love this project and I’m going to do it.’” The result is “Pense à nous” (“Think of us”), a joyful choral number championing the power of young people to overcome division. “Music is a language that we can all share no matter which country you come from,” he says. “In France, especially, I think we suffer from being put in boxes like ‘a classical musician should only play classical music.’” Capuçon’s wide-ranging music choices make for an eclectic listen, but this album channels the spirit of a city bursting with musical and cultural diversity, where we can celebrate and learn from our differences. “I have learned so much working with other artists, other forms of art, or other musicians,” he says. “I think we should all learn from each other. And we have so much to learn, today, more than ever.”

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada