Violin Sonata No.2 in G, Op.13
Romance in F minor, Op.11
Violin Sonata No.3 in D minor, Op.108
Janine Jansen (violin) & Itamar Golan (piano)
Reviewed by: Ben Hogwood
Reviewed: 16 October, 2006
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London
Fresh, early Grieg and turbulent late Brahms, with Dvořák’s Romance in between – such was the make-up of Janine Jansen and Itamar Golan’s generous lunchtime recital at the Wigmore Hall. Unexpected, too, as the initial programme listed Alfred Schnittke’s First Sonata rather than the Grieg!
Brahms’s D minor Violin Sonata is an edgy work that strives for resolution but never quite finds it. Some of the edge was softened in this performance, with the first Allegro a curious mixture of gracefulness and restlessness. Golan’s spiky accompaniment was well placed however, as was the florid return of the second, slower theme.
Throughout Jansen’s purity of tone was admirable, the mellow tone of the ‘G’ string with which she began the Adagio a case in point, while her double-stopped climax was immaculate and powerfully delivered. The scherzo was nimble on its feet, while the finale found Golan, in particular, attentive to the dynamic shading required. A performance that grew in power and stature as it progressed.
Meanwhile Grieg’s sonata inherited sunnier climbs, not totally free of conflict in its comparatively stern first statement but unravelling to become an ideal vehicle for Jansen’s silvery tone. The first movement throws up lots of melodic ideas but Jansen and Golan’s interplay ensured that they were put together coherently, with the violinist’s silky pianissimo tone a joy to hear. Equally the musicians’ fortissimo passages were clean, but not lacking in flair.
Golan was rather stilted in his presentation of the Allegretto second movement, but this soon settled, and though the two indulged in rubato it was tastefully done, enjoying the back and forth motion of Grieg’s phrase writing.
After this affectionate performance it might be thought indulgent to include something just as fanciful, but Dvořák’s adaptation of a string quartet melody for his Romance makes surprisingly virtuosic demands in its development section. Jansen’s playing was once again difficult to fault – clean but with feeling – and Golan proved an excellent partner as he shaped beautifully the transition back to the calm repose of the main theme.