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S & H Concert Review

Rossini, Bruch, Tchaikovsky, Janine Jansen (violin), Philharmonia Orchestra/Yakov Kreizberg, Royal Festival Hall, Wednesday 24th March 2004 (AN)


Miss Jansen stole the show. This terribly attractive 25 year old Dutch lady asserted confidently her reputation as one of the foremost young violinists on the international platform. Her illustrious career to date boasts solo appearances in the greatest musical venues alongside leading orchestras and conductors and recently, in 2003, an exclusive recording contract with the Decca Music Group. The Barrere Stradivarius that graced this evening’s performance could not have been loaned to a more deserving musician.

The Bruch Violin Concerto stood as the second item and in spite of stiff competition on either side – Rossini’s tempestuous William Tell Overture and Tchaikovsky’s dramatic Fourth Symphony – it was Miss Jansen that defined the experience. Her flamboyant self-assurance and assertive gestures rendered Kreizberg’s baton redundant – here was a leader whose interpretative conviction held us all by the reins. Yet in the same breath Miss Jansen’s intense introspection flavoured the extrovert air with an equally powerful personal touch. This mutually reinforcing duality meant that from the opening recitative bars to the serene meditation of the Adagio and the fiery Finale there was never a dull moment.

The Rossini has a tricky cello section introduction – and with each of the five cellos to a part, blemishes come at a high price. The most exposed member of this ensemble is the lead cellist who carries the main melody, and in this role David Watkin lead admirably, save for a few patches of tuning insecurities that he shared with his colleagues. Then the storm brewed up and the full orchestra raged – the force of this music never ceases to surprise! Kreizberg lead his band with minimalistic lower-arm spasms and only very occasionally lost the tight co-ordination, as for instance in the string pizzicato accompaniment of the cor anglais ‘cowherd’s call’ solo.

In the Tchaikovsky, Kreizberg – conducting without a score – did not altogether succeed in moulding the direction of the music. The solo entries, although very polished in themselves, did not interconnect and create the organism that a structure of such symphonic proportions demands. The compromised holistic perspective detracted somewhat from the awesome effects of the parts.

The Scherzo, however, was a real treat. Kreizberg’s succinct beckoning announced a delightful Mexican wave of dynamics across the string pizzicato texture and the notoriously difficult piccolo ornaments were very audaciously executed to the delight of an entertained audience. A frightening cymbal clash heralding the Finale made us all jump out of our seats and the return of the ominous ‘fate theme’ fanfare in the brass was no less threatening. An appropriate end to an exciting programme of music.

Aline Nassif




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