Janine Jansen plays the Beethoven concerto very freshly and with great confidence and poise. Her generally direct, lively approach has plenty of space for beauty of tone and poetic interpretation. The Larghetto is played flowingly and the finale has a great range of expression: energtic, musing and, above all, dancing. The rapport with the Bremen orchestra is very special. Their period style, with limited use of vibrato, contrasts with her more romantic style with plentiful but varied use of vibrato but this works very well. The ensemble is superb with a real sense of the performers playing as though they are chamber musicians. The orchestra under Paavo Jarvi bring energy and character to the piece especially the finale. Listen out in particular for the way the strings play the main theme with such zest and individuality and for the splendid bassoon playing. The Britten concerto is possibly even finer. There have been a number of recordings of the work in recent years including a ripely romantic version from Maxim Vengerov and a gritty (even scratchy) one from Daniel Hope. Jansen's version is searingly well played bringing out the disturbing pain as well as the beauty and energy of the piece. Again there is very special orchestral support, this time from the London Symphony Orchestra and Jarvi, and the recording quality is outstanding.
This disc attracted a number of highly conflicting reviews on Amazon.com but not so here in the UK (so far). The US reviews went to great lengths to describe the strengths and weaknesses of the performances on this disc. In reality these issues are often best left to the listener as one man's meat is another man's poison. I certainly don't possess the musical training to analyse these performances from an academic perspective. However, I have been purchasing classical recordings for nigh on 30 years and as such feel equipped to make a decent stab at a review.
Janine Jansen is without doubt a wonderful violinist and well up to the technical difficulties of both of these works. My main reason for buying this cd was to sample Janine Jansen's Britten performance which I believe is a very good one. Her Beethoven is not one that I am likely to return to very often and that is not due to her performance. The reason I have not given this disc 5 stars is not due to issues of artistic merit but merely due to the recording balance which I found unattractive.
My main problem with the recording is the fact that the soloist is very much in your face. Such practice was very common with certain artists in the past, particularly of the superstar variety. Thankfully, I have found that the practice is less common these days. In this case, I believe things have gone too far when the breathing of the artist becomes such an integral part of the performance. As a regular concert goer, I have never heard a soloist in such an artificial manner. While I don't want the soloist drowned out by the orchestra, I certainly don't want to the performer effectively detached from them either.
Some people may find this appealing on the basis that they have paid to listen to the star performer rather than the ensemble cast. However, I prefer a more natural balance in the recordings that I listen to. As a comparison I sampled Jansen's Beethoven recording against that of Lisa Batiashvili with the same orchestra on Sony Classics. I found the latter to provide a much better balanced recording as well as being beautifully played.
I found listening to the recording of Jansen to be tiring at anything other than very low volumes. Anything above a quarter turn on my volume control resulted in a very shrill tone to the soloist. I also found the recording of the orchestra in the Beethoven to be a little two dimensional. This is not an issue with the Batiashvili recording although it's the same orchestra they are recorded in different venues. While Jansen is still spotlit in the Britten I found this recording had at least more depth to it.
In summation, if you like performers to be upfront and spotlit then this disc could be for you. If you prefer a more balanced approach then you may wish to try elsewhere.
Though not a musician nor having a musical education, I am an old music lover and have been familiar with this work for decades, long enough for most hearings on Radio 3 to seem fairly run-of -the-mill. I do, however, love to make my own assessments from reviews such as BBC Radio 3 Building a Record Library.
It was on Radio 3 that I first heard Janine Jansen playing Beethoven's Violin Concerto. The reviewer of several recent recordings, though making another recording his first choice, placed Jansen a close contender. For me, however the Jansen version was a revelation. It was like listening with new ears. One section, late in the long first movement moved me so much that I appreciated for the first time what a truly magnificent work I was hearing, perhaps approaching the first movement of Beethoven's 3rd symphony in musical quality. I listened again and again. There was no doubt that for me Jansen's musical interpretation made me feel I was hearing more of the masters real intention than ever before. I had to have it! Obviously I recommend it very highly indeed. Thank you Miss Jansen. I am pleased to say that the recorded quality is also first class.
I bought via Amazon.co.uk. Low price and excellent service made the whole deal a bargain!
The new generation of violin players continue to line up against the older, more established names and this, the latest offering from the rising star of the Netherlands, continues the match. The playing is excellent, she is improving with each release. However, the best feature of this CD is the pairing. The Britten Concerto has been long neglected and this recording goes some way to restoring that balance. There are references to the Beethoven in Britten's work so the pairing is perhaps not all that strange. A brillieant choice, none-the-less, and brilliantly played.
There is some serious violin playing in this CD.. :P Janine Jansen interprets these two big concertos in a profound way, it's a recording worth having... She gives a very fresh and in many ways different approach to the Beethoven concerto, while she blends perfectly with the orchestra. It was the first time I listened to the Britten concerto and I can say that it is a true piece of art...Generally I like Britten's music a lot and this concerto is nothing less than what I expected!
As a violinist, I never cease to be 'bowled over' by Beethoven's writing of this concerto. Janine Jansen is a fine exponent on her instrument bringing out the many shades of colour which make this such a striking and exciting piece of writing. This also applies to Britten's approach which shows what an outstanding composition this is and - although written many years after the Beethoven - both concertos show their understanding of the instrument and the challenge presented to the player.
Janine Jansen is a young fiddler worthing a Stradivarius. The Beethoven's concerto is certainly enriched with a fresh attitude and quite paradoxically with a warm and not to technical or "virtuoso" approach. Delightfull! I didn't have a chance to listen to Britten untill now but I assure a similar pleasure as when we find a shadow in a hot sunny day: is like a refuge where we can rest and refresh. We could also imagine Benjamin Britten listening to Beethoven's work...