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Bach: Concertos / Janine Jansen


Release Date: 10/29/2013 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 001930102   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jan JansenNimrod GuezMonika UrbonaiteTijmen Huisingh,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



BACH Violin Concertos: No. 2 in E; No. 1 in a. Concerto for Violin and Oboe in c, BWV 1060. Violin Sonatas: in E, BWV 1016; in c, BWV 1017 Janine Jansen (vn); dir; Ramón Ortega Quero (ob); Jan Jansen, (hpd); Janine Jansen and Friends DECCA 0019301 (71:54)


Janine Jansen and friends impart to Bach’s Violin Concerto in E Major a chunky energy, chivvying Read more along the first movement at a brisk tempo that bristles with rhythmic electricity. Perhaps that’s the legacy of historical performance movement, which championed similar sonorities produced by unmodified “period” instruments. Decca’s engineers have placed Jansen only slightly forward, allowing her to interweave her part into the composer’s contrapuntal textures that serve as more than simply as a dense background. She plays the 1727 Barrere Stradivari on loan to her from the Elise Mathilde Foundation, but because of the focus on the ensemble in both the performance and the recorded sound, tonal sumptuousness never dominates the proceedings. It doesn’t in the second movement, either, in which she produces a generally straight tone ornamented by a trill (at the beginning) but predominantly by considerable bowing nuance; she never languishes nor even lingers. Despite the jaunty tempo she takes in the Finale, she avoids parsing long lines into short segments.


Although the Concerto in A Minor seems more tightly packed texturally, the approach of the soloist and ensemble to its relatively greater complexity recalls their reading of the E-Major Concerto: bright sonorities in the first movement, featuring effervescent tempos, and dialogue between the soloist and the rest of the ensemble. If Jansen brings greater tonal subtlety to the slow movement of this Concerto than she did to its counterpart in the other, it’s still hardly expressive in a Romantic way, though it’s eloquently moving in its own right. The Finale, in Jansen’s performance, returns to the opening movement’s gusto.


In Bach’s Concerto in C Minor for violin and oboe, reconstructed from a Concerto for two harpsichords, Jansen sinks the individual even deeper, assuming a role no more than equal with that of the oboe and blending even more seamlessly into the ensemble than hitherto in the program. If the Double Violin Concerto seems like a concerto grosso rather than a double solo concerto, in this performance such an approach does work. Ramón Ortega Quero gives a heartfelt account of the second movement’s oboe solo, with Jansen providing affecting supporting dialogue. Jansen also provides effective figuration as a counterpart to Quero’s bracing melodic fragments in the Finale.


Jansen rounds out the program with two of Bach’s sonatas for violin and harpsichord. The engineers come closer to Jansen from the outset of the first, the Sonata in E Major, BWV 1016, providing a very different tonal profile of her instrument. In general, though, her interplay with the harpsichord provides a greater share of the performance’s interest than does the timbral subtlety with which she endows her reading. Add to those general features a searching performance of the opening Andante, the joie de vivre of the duo’s run through the ensuing Allegro , the suavity of their delivery of the Adagio ma non tanto , in which they take turns accompanying each other, and the beauty of Jansen’s tone in the lower registers in passages in the final Allegro.


The opening movement of the Sonata in C Minor, BWV 1017, so similar to “Erbarme dich” from the composer’s St. Matthew Passion (I’ve noted that if they’re mirror images, however, there’s a still a great deal of refraction), gives the duo an opportunity to continue their rapt interaction from the slow movements of the preceding Sonata. They make the Allegro that follows a true manifestation of the chamber spirit, engaging in an equal partnership that will seem admirable to those inclined to see these works that way rather than as some sort of solo violin sonatas. In the slow movement, Jansen assumes a more prominent role. Together, both Jansens provide the program with a bustling conclusion.


Julia Fischer recorded the concertos with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, adhering to similar aesthetic predilections (Decca 478 0650), and, in reviewing her performances in Fanfare 32:5, I noted that she sounded more athletic than did Hilary Hahn (Deutsche Grammophon B0000986, Fanfare 27:3 and, as an SACD, Fanfare 27:5). Nevertheless, I ended up recommending her version of Bach’s concertos to those who might value a strongly defined concept more highly than a strongly defined personality. But Jansen exhibits both (like Hahn, too, in a way, she’s suave and nuanced), and should appeal, therefore, more widely.


I heard the recording of the A-Minor Concerto on the radio without learning first who would be performing it. It seemed highly impressive then, and it’s equally impressive now as an assignment for review. Its appeal should cut across preferences for period or modern instruments and period and modern performance: It’s like a period performance without mannerism, or a modern performance without indulgence. In either case, it’s consistently intelligent and charming (if that epithet’s not damning). Strongly recommended.


FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

1. Concerto for Violin no 2 in E major, BWV 1042 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jan Jansen (Harpsichord), Nimrod Guez (Viola), Monika Urbonaite (Violin),
Tijmen Huisingh (Violin), Fredrik Paulsson (Violin), Julia Maria Kretz (Violin),
Boris Brovtsyn (Violin), Janine Jansen (Violin), Cindy Albracht (Violin),
Pauline Sachse (Viola), Maarten Jansen (Cello), Rick Stotijn (Double Bass)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1717-1723; Cöthen, Germany 
2. Concerto for Violin no 1 in A minor, BWV 1041 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jan Jansen (Harpsichord), Nimrod Guez (Viola), Monika Urbonaite (Violin),
Tijmen Huisingh (Violin), Fredrik Paulsson (Violin), Julia Maria Kretz (Violin),
Boris Brovtsyn (Violin), Janine Jansen (Violin), Cindy Albracht (Violin),
Pauline Sachse (Viola), Maarten Jansen (Cello), Rick Stotijn (Double Bass)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1717-1723; Cöthen, Germany 
3. Concerto for Oboe and Violin in C minor, BWV 1060 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Rick Stotijn (Double Bass), Maarten Jansen (Cello), Pauline Sachse (Viola),
Cindy Albracht (Violin), Janine Jansen (Violin), Boris Brovtsyn (Violin),
Julia Maria Kretz (Violin), Fredrik Paulsson (Violin), Tijmen Huisingh (Violin),
Monika Urbonaite (Violin), Nimrod Guez (Viola), Jan Jansen (Harpsichord),
Ramon Ortega Quero (Oboe)
Period: Baroque 
4. Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord no 4 in C minor, BWV 1017 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Janine Jansen (Violin), Jan Jansen (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1717-1723; Cöthen, Germany 
5. Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord no 3 in E major, BWV 1016 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Janine Jansen (Violin), Jan Jansen (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1717-1723; Cöthen, Germany 

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