In the Inventions, Jansen is an equal partner with violist Maxim Rysanov and cellist Torleif Thedéen in performances of wit, feeling, and subtle grace. In the Partita and especially its excruciatingly ecstatic Chaconne, Jansen delivers consummate musicality and surpassing emotional honesty. Decca's sound is close and evocative.
Janine Jansen embarks on a journey recording on 12 of the world's most precious instruments. "All 12 violins are by the master Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari and have been played by an encyclopedic list of great violinists. Each of them has its own distinctive sound and character which violinists normally have months, if not years, to respond to and make their own. Jansen had only a matter of days with these violins before going into the recording studio accompanied by Sir Antonio Pappano.
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.
This unusual coupling works surprisingly well, God only knows why. Perhaps the Britten’s neo-classical (or Baroque) leanings and formal freedom sit well next to Beethoven’s echt-Classical language, but whatever the reason the performances of both works are extremely fine. Paavo Järvi’s expertise in Beethoven with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen is by now well-known, and in Janine Jansen he has a soloist who matches him for vibrancy and freshness.
In 1998, the Rotterdam Arts Foundation commissioned 24 Dutch composers to write short works, or "capriccios", for solo violin, clearly with the idea of being a modern counterpart to the 24 caprices of Paganini. The one main rule was to compose acoustically, i.e. no use of electronics/remixing, overdubbing, or other outside means of sound besides the violin on its own and the violinist on her/his own. The Dutch music publishing house Donemus published these works in a single collected volume in 1999. All of these works received their premieres that same year at the International Gaudeamus Interpreters' Competition, which centered on the violin that year.
Two recent pieces of Van der Aa are combined on this album: Violin concerto with RCO and Janine Jansen (recorded live at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam in November 2014, duration 26") and Hysteresis for solo clarinet, ensemble and soundtrack, performed by Amsterdam Sinfonietta and Kari Kriikku (recorded in session at Stadsgehoorzaal Leiden in September 2015 - duration 17').
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.
Even though violinist Janine Jansen appears alone in the cover photo of this 2012 Decca release, and her name is featured in large letters, no one should mistake this album as a solo effort. The recordings of Franz Schubert's String Quintet in C major and Arnold Schoenberg's sextet Verklärte Nacht are ensemble performances, and the musicians who play with Jansen form an artistic bond that seems utterly at odds with the star-oriented artwork. Jansen is certainly behind the choice of works, because they were programmed on her critically praised concert at Wigmore Hall.
Given how often these chamber works by John Harbison are played in concert, it is somewhat surprising that this is the first CD to offer them on one program. At once highly abstract, completely accessible, and intensely personal, Variations and Twilight Music were written in the 1980s and have become classics in their own right, fitting comfortably alongside the likes of Bartók’s Contrasts and Brahms’ and Ligeti’s respective Horn Trios. Although both pieces on this recording were taken from live performances by the fine members of Spectrum Concerts Berlin, the sound is not compromised in the slightest.