Tim Homfray hears the duo perform at Wigmore Hall, London, on 12 March 2019
My word, Janine Jansen can fill a hall. I saw two empty seats, and worried slightly for the health of those who hadn’t turned up. She showed just why she has such pulling power in a concert that combined musical strength, personality and virtuosic flair. In the first movement of Schumann’s Violin Sonata no.1 in A minor she and Alexander Gavrylyuk, a tremendous partner throughout, produced high drama, as if recounting a passionate poem. The second was a dialogue between two different characters, one free and expressive, the other a flibbertigibbet. In the third, too, there were strong contrasts, of dynamics and of bowing power, with light staccato playing and emphatic chords. Could anyone hearing this performance not be convinced of the quality of this undervalued music? Jansen also made a good case for Clara Schumann’s Three Romances op. 22.
Jansen finished the first part of her concert with Brahms’s Second Violin Sonata. Here there were extremes of vehement rhythmic punch and silky melody, an air of confidentiality alternating with episodes of fun in the central movement, and a complex personality exposed in the third. After the interval, Jansen and Gavrylyuk gave a powerhouse performance of Franck’s Sonata, full of hushed lyricism and bravado flourishes. The finale, joyful, heroic and with ecstatic climaxes, summed up the sonata and the evening. A delicate encore of Lili Boulanger’s Nocturne provided an exquisite close.