Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Janine Jansen plays Prokofiev

Janine Jansen has always been a violinist I have greatly admired and she does not disappoint in a 2012 recording of Prokofiev works. The second violin concerto – indelibly engraved with the name of Jascha Heifetz – is beautifully played, well aided by Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic. The first violin and piano sonata is another winner on the disk; pianist is Itmar Golan whom I have never really liked, but he seems to have improved greatly with age even if, in the “wind through the graveyard” passages, he could do with a few more graveyard visits to appreciate they are silent, mournful places rather than passages to play tasteful chords whilst Janine does her admirable pianissimo stuff. Mr Golan still sounds happier doing the allegrissimo forte passages in the final movement.

Praise, for a change, for the recording and the balance engineers (Decca). Both the concerto and the sonata pose problems; in the concerto, it is often difficult outside of a live concert attendance, to separate the high-flying solo violin from the high-flying orchestral violins. In the sonata, the piano (especially when played by Mr Golan and his confrères) can often drown the sound of the violin. On this CD, balance is pretty well impeccable and we can sit back and revel in Janine Jansen's vibrant violin playing. Filler for the CD is Prokofiev's sonata for two violins (where Jansen is partnered by Boris Brovtsyn); not one of Prokofiev's more memorable works. In my view, only in the first violin and piano sonata did Prokofiev approach the kind of emotional depth of his colleague Dmitri Shostakovich.

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