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Paavo Järvi and Janine Jansen with Sibelius’s Violin Concerto

Paavo Järvi and Janine Jansen with Sibelius’s Violin Concerto

Berliner Philharmoniker
Paavo Järvi

Janine Jansen

  • Jean Sibelius
    Night Ride and Sunrise, Symphonic Poem, op. 55

  • Jean Sibelius
    Violin Concerto in D minor, op. 47

    Janine Jansen Violin

  • Dmitri Shostakovich
    Symphony No. 6 in B minor, op. 54

“Whenever a repertory piece needs to be given new life, there is a simple solution: just have Janine Jansen play it,” was the verdict of the London Times, and rightly so! For Janine Jansen, who started winning prestigious awards at an early age, always succeeds in bringing out new, unfamiliar and exciting facets in well-known Classical and Romantic violin concertos – with a freshness that makes it sound as if the Dutch violin virtuoso were playing each work for the very first time. This season, Janine Jansen joins the Berliner Philharmoniker to perform Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto whose playful finale reminded the English pianist and composer Donald Tovey of a “polonaise for polar bears”; a nice alliteration, but it is based on the popular misconception that there are polar bears in Finland. (Supposedly this misconception arose at the 1900 Paris World Exhibition, when the Finnish pavilion had two ornamental bears on the roof as decoration. The sculptor Emil Wikström had delivered them at the last minute, and they had not yet been painted brown; the next day, the Paris newspapers were full of descriptions of the beautiful Finnish polar bears.)

The conductor of the evening is Paavo Järvi, whose work Janine Jansen particularly admires: “Paavo Järvi is a great communicator, especially in rehearsals. As a soloist, I don’t want to get in the way of the relationship between him and his orchestra, and I always start to talk to him about problems. He then turns to the orchestra and says: Tell them! Talk to each other! So a very direct, open collaboration has developed between us.”

Following the Sibelius concerto, whose prominent violin part belongs unmistakably to the Romantic concerto tradition, the programme continues with Dmitri Shostakovich’s Sixth Symphony, a work which received rapturous applause even at its Leningrad premiere on 5 November 1939. At one of the subsequent performances, the audience was so enthusiastic that the finale was even repeated. It is no surprise that this Mahler-influenced work (whose music, like Till Eulenspiegel and Petrushka, repeatedly takes a menacing turn) was included immediately in Leopold Stokowski’s repertoire: “In each of his symphonies, Shostakovich proves himself to be a master who was constantly growing in creative imagination and musical self-confidence. He reaches new heights in his Symphony No. 6.”

 

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