The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D major op.61*. Britten: Violin Concerto op.15†
Tuesday, 02 February 2010
Janine Jansen (violin) Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen*, London Symphony Orchestra†/Paavo Järvi
Decca 478 1530
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.
From the February 2010 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.