Dutch violinist Janine Jansen has made some unorthodox recordings (check out her Vivaldi Four Seasons sometime), but here, in a work in which proportion and technique are exquisitely balanced, she plays it straight with impressive results. Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2, composed in 1935 just before his return to the Soviet Union from France, has always been a popular repertory item, but Jansen's reading, ably accompanied by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Vladimir Jurowski, has a pearly quality throughout, a kind of bright ease, that comes only at the highest levels of technique.
Eschewing its usual heavy orchestral sound in favor of a more stripped-down instrumentation, Dutch violinist Janine Jansen's second album offers a fresh interpretation of one of the most performed classical works, Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. The 2005 follow-up to her Barry Wordsworth-conducted debut, the subtle but passionate renditions of the "La Primavera," "L'estate," "L'autunno," and "L'inverno" concertos are performed with a sparse, eight-piece ensemble including Lithuanian violinist Julian Rachlin, her cellist brother Maarten, and harpsichordist father Jan.
Janine releases a brand new Bach recording, joined by a hand-picked group of friends – all exceptional musicians. This is energising Bach which is lustrous, new and vital made available in vivid, full studio-quality, sound.
"Beau Soir" - named after Debussy's evocation of evening - takes us from dusk to the moonlit night, from lullabies into sleep, from dreams to awakening and recollection. Popular classics such as Faure's Berceuse and Apr s un r ve and Debussy's Claire de lune are contrasted with three substantial works; sonatas by Debussy and Ravel, and Messiaen's Theme and Variations. The album also includes three new works by the widely admired contemporary Swiss composer Richard Dubugnon, whose violin concerto Janine Jansen premiered in Paris in 2008.
"Jansen is a completely winning soloist, with consistently lovely sound, a superb technique that is always at the service of the music, and a rare instinct for how and when to build towards climaxes."
A star of Janine Jansen's status and influence could have a major orchestra accompany her in Bach's violin concertos, but she chooses instead to keep her hand-picked ensemble small and intimate, and enjoys the camaraderie of a chamber group. Indeed, the assembly of friends who join Jansen in the Violin Concerto in E major, BWV 1042; Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041; and Concerto for violin and oboe in C minor, BWV 1060, number no more than 12 players, and includes her brother Maarten Jansen on cello and her father, Jan Jansen, on harpsichord, as well as her touring colleague, oboist Ramón Ortega Quero. Such familiarity yields music of considerable verve and spontaneity, and wherever Jansen leads her musicians, they are quick to follow.