The sound of French cellist Gautier Capuçon’s instrument is immediately striking. The timbre he draws from his 1701 Goffriller is both rich and bright, with a resonance that cleaves through the orchestra and reaches right to the back of even the acoustically tricky Sydney Opera House Concert Hall. In the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s Tchaikovsky Cello Favourites, the sheer presence of Capuçon’s sound was further highlighted and framed by a sensitive, cushioning accompaniment from the SSO’s former Chief Vladimir Ashkenazy in Tchaikovsky’s Andante Cantabile, pinched by the composer himself from his First String Quartet and arranged for cello and strings. Ashkenazy kept the SSO strings hushed, bringing them right down at times to give Capuçon the flexibility to go incredibly quiet – a clear, solo voice in even the most delicate moments.

The Russian composer’s tribute to Mozart, the Opus 33 Variations on a Rococo Themewere handled with similar sensitivity, Capuçon delivering the variations with an easy, singing elegance when wrapped in winds, and hinting at untapped strength in his growling low register. He shimmied up and down the instrument with sinuous grace, his lyrical moments infused with warmth and his high register crystalline and precise, before the vibrant Allegro...