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Vivaldi: The Four Seasons / Janine Jansen [blu-ray audio]

Vivaldi / Jansen,Janine
Release Date: 02/11/2014 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 001993546   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Maarten JansenCandida ThompsonHenk RubinghJulian Rachlin,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is an audio-only (i.e., with no video content) Blu-ray disc playable only on Blu-ray players.

It is also available on standard CD.

Reviews of CD version:
"This is a delight with a seriousness of purpose that rather belies the star-centred packaging. Jansen and friends offer this ever-popular work in a cut-down, chamber version that grows on you with each listening. The playing is full of vigour and imagination, and the sound merely adds to the appeal... you're unlikely to resist Jansen's charms for long." -- Gramophone


With well over 100 recordings to choose from, such are
Read more the musical possibilities thrown up by Vivaldi’s vibrant pictograms that no two versions sound remotely alike. Of the old-school versions, Henryk Szeryng directing the English Chamber Orchestra on Philips (now sadly deleted) still holds sway, although finest of recent accounts on modern instruments is Anne-Sophie Mutter’s second DG outing with the Trondheim Soloists, an exhilarating musical rollercoaster ride that surprises at every dive and swerve, without resorting to the grating eccentricity and puerile shock tactics of several period-instrument versions.

If Mutter turns Romantic semantic sensibilities on their head, Janine Jensen might be said to marry traditional expressive values with the textural vitality and bracing inventiveness of authenticity. Jansen possesses the ideal combination of intonational purity and tonal allure, and is beguilingly responsive to the music’s shifting moods, creating the uncanny impression of a series of vividly drawn characters passing before our eyes as we listen. The all-star ensemble responds to her every whim and caprice with a ravishing sequence of captivating sonorities that grow naturally out of the music rather than merely being superimposed on it. The recording possesses a seductive autumnal glow that bathes the listener in a stream of golden sound. Forget the meagre playing time: with this exemplary release, the benchmark has been raised just that bit higher.
5 out of 5 stars for performance, 5 out of 5 stars for sound

-- Julian Haylock, BBC Music Magazine

Review of blu-ray audio version: 3763540.az_VIVALDI_Four_Seasons_Janine.html
VIVALDI The Four Seasons Janine Jansen (vn); C Ens DECCA 002894785001 (Blu-ray audio: 38:20)

Purists will be in a snit over this recording, with Janine Jansen on the cover lounging in a chair with an alluring “come hither” look, and her name in large letters over “Vivaldi The Four Seasons ” in a much smaller font. Is this marketing run amok? Perhaps so, but I don’t really mind if it succeeds in selling classical recordings by serious artists with substantive musical value. That appears to be the case here. First of all, Jansen is a very serious and gifted artist. In this recording, Vivaldi’s string orchestra is reduced to a small chamber ensemble of seven instrumentalists, including two of Jansen’s family members playing the cello and harpsichord. Again, this is hardly a major problem since The Four Seasons has been arranged for nearly every conceivable ensemble, even in the composer’s time.

Jansen plays the solo violin part brilliantly and fairly straightforwardly with minimal vibrato. The crisp, dynamic playing of the soloist and accompanying ensemble gives a suggestion of authenticity despite the extreme variations in tempo and dynamics (emphasized by the ultra close miking), plus the overdone quasi-staccato pounding of the instrumentalists in places. You get the impression that Jansen is trying to play it straight (and fast) but the accompanying ensemble is having a grand good time with their exaggerated embellishments. That would probably only be an impression, because this appears to be Jansen’s ball game all the way.

I have not heard the original SACD surround sound release, but this Blu-ray audio disc is all about extremely garish spotlighting of Jansen’s Stradivarius violin, producing a huge instrumental image in addition to accentuating the incisive playing of the small string ensemble. It would probably be more musically acceptable if they were all placed further back in the sound field to give a more accurate picture of a small ensemble playing in a concert venue. But that approach would not be compatible with the overall marketing of the album.

So, this is clearly an interpretive rethinking of The Four Seasons that would seem to be entirely Jansen’s idea. Her own virtuosity and the unanimity of spirit clearly evident with the accompanying ensemble make it work as a viable alternative to the many excellent and far more authentic versions out there. Once again, purists beware, but it still is a lot of fun to hear Jansen and her group doing their thing, despite the fact that everything superficially seems to be wrong with this release from the marketing to the sound to the interpretive concept. That in itself may deserve a hearty “Well done!”

FANFARE: Arthur Lintgen
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Violin in E major, Op. 8 no 1/RV 269 "Primavera" by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Maarten Jansen (Cello), Candida Thompson (Violin), Henk Rubingh (Violin),
Julian Rachlin (Viola), Stacey Watton (Double Bass), Elizabeth Kenny (Theorbo),
Jan Jansen (Harpsichord), Jan Jansen (Organ), Janine Jansen (Violin)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1725; Venice, Italy 
Venue:  Yakult Hall, Amsterdam 
Length: 9 Minutes 35 Secs. 
Concerto for Violin in G minor, Op. 8 no 2/RV 315 "L'estate" by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Jan Jansen (Organ), Stacey Watton (Double Bass), Elizabeth Kenny (Theorbo),
Maarten Jansen (Cello), Julian Rachlin (Viola), Henk Rubingh (Violin),
Jan Jansen (Harpsichord), Candida Thompson (Violin), Janine Jansen (Violin)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1725; Venice, Italy 
Venue:  Yakult Hall, Amsterdam 
Length: 10 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Concerto for Violin in F major, Op. 8 no 3/RV 293 "L'autunno" by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Jan Jansen (Harpsichord), Candida Thompson (Violin), Henk Rubingh (Violin),
Stacey Watton (Double Bass), Julian Rachlin (Viola), Maarten Jansen (Cello),
Jan Jansen (Organ), Elizabeth Kenny (Theorbo), Janine Jansen (Violin)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1725; Venice, Italy 
Venue:  Yakult Hall, Amsterdam 
Length: 10 Minutes 56 Secs. 
Concerto for Violin in F minor, Op. 8 no 4/RV 297 "L'inverno" by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Elizabeth Kenny (Theorbo), Maarten Jansen (Cello), Stacey Watton (Double Bass),
Jan Jansen (Harpsichord), Jan Jansen (Organ), Julian Rachlin (Viola),
Janine Jansen (Violin), Henk Rubingh (Violin), Candida Thompson (Violin)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1725; Venice, Italy 
Venue:  Yakult Hall, Amsterdam 
Length: 7 Minutes 41 Secs. 
Concertos (4) for Violin, Op. 8 no 1-4 "Four seasons" by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Candida Thompson (Violin), Henk Rubingh (Violin), Julian Rachlin (Viola),
Maarten Jansen (Cello), Stacey Watton (Double Bass), Elizabeth Kenny (Theorbo),
Jan Jansen (Harpsichord), Janine Jansen (Violin), Jan Jansen (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1725; Venice, Italy 
Date of Recording: 05/2004 
Venue:  Yakult Hall, Amsterdam 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Spectacular May 2, 2014 By E. Allison (Carl Junction, MO) See All My Reviews "Tony never heard the girls at Ospedale della Pietà play it like this! If your ears require period instruments and an International Musicological Society seal of approval to enjoy a recording of these concertos, then these will not be your favorite disc. There are timbres, dynamics, rhythmic freedom, colors, and ornamentation to every extreme. It is a tour de force of imaginative phrasing, articulation, and bowing; brimming with musicality while vanquishing the yoke worn by so many War Horses. This is a collaboration between musicians exploring the boundaries of the compositions for the pure joy discovery. There is agreement and commitment between like-minded performers that is seldom heard. These are 8 musicians with enormous technique that frees and enables them to make music as they understand it. Antonio Vivaldi wrote the notes. Janine Jensen and her colleagues illuminate the score as no ensemble before them. These are performances every music lover deserves to hear. The sound is demonstration disc quality." Report Abuse
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