Tim Homfray attends the sold-out all-Brahms performance, at London’s Wigmore Hall on 21 December 2023  

Janine Jansen

Powerful Brahms led by Janine Jansen. Photo: Wigmore Hall Trust 2023

Janine Jansen opened this all-Brahms programme with his Second Violin Sonata in A op.100, her tone lush and generous with a big vibrato, before becoming more severe in the development section, with sudden changes of dynamic and passages of hushed intimacy and relaxation which gave way to fierce outbursts of martial dotted rhythms. The central section of the second-movement Andante was punchy and eloquently phrased, and there was passion in the finale, with moments of high drama.

Timothy Ridout followed her with the E flat Viola Sonata op.120 no.2, genial and flowing at the outset with some fruity C-string playing to follow, and fine dialogues with pianist Denis Kozhukhin. The second movement was impetuous and full-bodied. Ridout brought a questioning quality to the final Andante con moto; its third variation floating, almost a meditation, before the muscular outburst of the fourth and the jubilant finish.

The three of them were joined by cellist Daniel Blendulf for Brahms’s C minor Piano Quartet op.60, full of drama and theatrical tragedy with some serious power playing from the two upper strings. They were variously spectral and vehement in the first movement and ended the second with near-symphonic weight. There was finely balanced contrapuntal shaping in the Andante, and the Finale was full of contrasts, with alluring charm followed by mighty tonal power.