In recent months we’ve had Beethoven concertos both traditional (Capuçon on Virgin Classics) and period-informed (Kopatchinskaja on Naive): here the two come together. Janine Jansen’s melodious, lightly Romantic way of playing the work, complete with Kreisler cadenzas, meets the no-nonsense, vibratoless Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie and, far from being a stylistic hotchpotch, the result is a fascinating combination that highlights the work’s lyricism as much as its formal expansiveness. Jansen’s playing in any case can be both songful and wonderfully fleet-footed, as in the way she unfolds the melodic line in the first movement and dances through the rhythms of the finale.
With its nod to the Beethoven in opening with a timpani motif, the Britten Concerto makes an apt coupling, if one very different in mood. Jansen makes much of the music’s Mahlerian irony in the first two movements, matched by biting playing from the London Symphony Orchestra, and she is often daring in her use of tone, digging into the strings in the finale as any optimism is torn from the passacaglia’s fateful tread – the close is bleak indeed.
The recordings, made in Hamburg and London last summer, richly encompass the demands of both works, though in placing Jansen centre stage we do hear rather too much of her forceful breathing.