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Janáček, Messiaen, Elgar Janine Jansen (violin), Kathryn Stott (piano), Wigmore Hall, 1pm, Monday, January 10th, 2005 (CC)



To kick off 2005, young Dutch talent Janine Jensen (see www.janinejansen.com joined forces with the excellent pianist Kathryn Stott in a stimulating juxtaposition of repertoire. It was perhaps daring to pit Elgar against the combined might of Janáček and Messiaen, but in the end it was an inspired idea.

Janáček’s Sonata is a late work whose second movement, Balada, was originally written as a separate piece in its own right. The first movement represents Janáček the enigmatist. If Jansen could have been a tad more impassioned, her warm tone carried her through. Her attack was spot-on and, as the music entered the more tender realms of the Balada, she began to relish the clear, characteristic Janáček-inflections of the melodic line. Jansen’s control (in pianissimo) was lively. Juxtapositions of material in the finale were bold and dramatically painted; to complement her, Stott’s playing was a model of what an accompanist should be. Stott’s own legato was seamless enough to rival Jansen’s.

The Messiaen Thčme et Variations was written in the early 1950’s. The harmonic language is unmistakably French, the theme seemingly never-ending. The flashes of the later Messiaen are fascinating in the way they surface from time to time, and the way the music leads to an expansive, emotive climax is most impressive.

The Elgar Sonata revealed another side of Jansen. This is Elgar on his own turf, as it were, played by a young Dutch lady. As is so often the case, the European perspective clearly breathed new life into this music. Stott tackled the difficult piano part with aplomb and yet with sensitivity (she never once threatened to overpower her partner). Jansen’s sweet upper register suits Elgarian outpouring particularly well, something that was clear not only from the more relaxed parts of the first movement, but also from the Romance. The balance between the energy and the repose of the finale is difficult to achieve, but Jansen and Stott managed it triumphantly.

Jansen is set to issue her version of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (available mid-2005, on both CD and SACD; see her website). However, instead of yet another duplication of repertoire, it would be great to see this pair commit their interpretation of the Elgar to disc, if anyone’s listening out there …

Colin Clarke

Further listening:

Janáček: Amoyal/Rudy, EMI Double Forte 5748432
Messiaen: Poppen, Loriod, EMI Encore 5756292
Elgar: Works for Violin & Piano, Mordkovitch, Milford, Chandos CHAN9624


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