I ask why she chose the Vaughan Williams. It was proposed by the Proms. I didnt have that much to say about it, but its a fantastic piece I love to play. I think about a bird in flight, very free; you really feel this freedom. I played it a couple of years ago in Holland and I programme the Britten concerto a lot. Im trying my best! A reference to British Musics supposed insularity; Elgars concerto is a possible addition to Janines repertoire. I ask her what her first impressions of the VW were, something obviously British or does it have more universal qualities? I find it difficult to put things into categories. It has a nice simplicity but is also deep.
Janines open, natural and unbiased approach informs her musicianship and musical tastes, defying pigeonholing, and epitomised by her first CD just out on Decca 475 011-2, which mixes Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saëns, John Williamss music for Schindlers List, some well-known Shostakovich (as used on TV!) and, indeed, The Lark Ascending. I like to do many different things. The CD shows these sides of me, nice for a first CD, to get to know me! Barry Wordsworth conducts, as he will at the Prom. Making the CD was a very intensive time. Hes a great guy. He gave me good advice when we were listening to playbacks. You feel completely at ease with him.
Janine is from a very musical family. My father is an organist, my mother a singer, and two brothers, also organist and ones a cellist. Initially Janine dallied with the piano and sung in her fathers choir, but the violin was the first serious instrument. Actually, I wanted to play the cello. I love its deep dark sound. Her elder brother got there first! Chamber music is important, its part of who I want to be as a musician. I love making music together. Has Janine been influenced by any particular violinist-legend of the past? Given the freshness with which she plays, her answer doesnt surprise. I like to listen to them, but I dont even think about it, I follow my own way. My teacher Philipp Hirshhorn always said to keep spontaneity. Play like you feel it. Its one of the most important things for me in music. Janines musical interests cover centuries. I grew up in the Baroque scene; my dad is also a harpsichordist and my uncle and grandfather are into baroque things. Janine again enthuses about Brittens concerto, adds-in Barbers, and shes taking up Dutilleuxs Sur le même accord, recently composed for Anne-Sophie Mutter.
Janine is one of the BBCs New Generation Artists, which brings publicity, lots of concerts and the chance to meet other musicians. Its a nice learning process. Janine calls herself a home person and is now more used to travelling the music-making gives me so much joy. Janine thinks the Proms are fantastic. The people are so incredibly enthusiastic when maybe theres less interest in classical music. To see these people listening to Bruckner symphonies, or whatever, just standing there, completely into the music really its a celebration of music.
- BBC Proms
- The above article was published in Whats On in London on 16 July and is reproduced here with permission
Simply entitled Janine Jansen, her first CD is, as she suggests, an ideal calling card; various sides of her musical interests are presented. Her playing is, also as she says, from herself she is spontaneous, fresh, deploys a lovely tone and a natural sense of phrase. Theres fireworks for the Russian Dance from Tchaikovskys Swan Lake, such unforced energy also enlivening the middle section of Saint-Saënss Havanaise, its sultry and seductive outer portions beautifully distilled, so too Khachaturians Nocturne from Masquerade. The other Saint-Saëns standard, Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, is also here, flowing and dancing, with no lack of lyrical ardour. To TV and the big screen Shostakovichs Romance found fame as a signature tune, and we get the main theme for Schindlers List (John Williams). Jansen plays both with the same devotion as the classics. I love Ravel but am not keen on Tzigane; Jansens fiery freedom is preferable to an over-worked approach.
Of Vaughan Williamss quite wonderful The Lark Ascending, a deeply beautiful, deeply felt study of remarkable poetry and humanism, Jansen, the RPO and Barry Wordsworth (who offer able support throughout) attain a sense of peace that ravishes the ear. While I suspect that nobody will get near let alone surpass the EMI recording by Hugh Bean and Boult, one is pleased to have Janine Jansen in this music too.
While Jansen is excellently recorded, with focus and space judiciously balanced, the recording of the orchestra is less satisfactory too distant, hollow-sounding and edgy in fortissimos. Fortunately, the more intimate pieces, of which The Lark Ascending is the jewel, escape such audiophile strictures.
In any case, like VWs lark, Janine Jansen is also in ascendancy, and one looks forward to hearing her many more times in the future.