Janine Jansen

After her win at this year's RPS awards, the Dutch violinist tells us why live performance matters. Hear an extract from her new disc here – and see her in action.

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You’ve just won this year’s Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) instrumental award. Congratulations!
It was very nice news, I must say! It’s a great honour.

How important is it to you to win an award for live performance?
There’s nothing like a live concert. Of course recordings are important – it’s nice to have recordings of certain moments in your life and of certain repertoire – but it’s wonderful to get an award for live performance.

The jury particularly praised your fresh and spontaneous approach to music-making…
Being open to new influences is when music-making starts working and being interesting. I’ve known all these great concertos for such a long time – I’ve been listening to them since I was a little girl. Then the moment comes when you can start practising them yourself and one day playing them with orchestras. Of course I have strong personal ideas and feelings about interpretation but it can never be set in stone. For instance I first played the Tchaikovsky Concerto nine years ago. Since I’ve played it with so many different people – conductors and orchestras – so it grows in different directions. I’m not talking about huge differences, it’s the small things. Live performances are never the same – that’s what makes them so exciting.

Which concertos will you be tackling this year?
Since the first time I played the Britten Violin Concerto over ten years ago, it has been one of my favourite concertos – it’s so strong and has a fantastic sweep from beginning to end. In the last few years it’s been played more and more, and it should be [programmed] with all the big concertos, like the Beethoven, for instance. Performing the Britten has been my big wish for years and this year I’ll play it with the London Symphony Orchestra and Paavo Järvi.

And alongside your solo career chamber music is another passion…
I love chamber music. It’s always been a big part of my life and my studies – my first piano teacher put me in a piano quintet from the age of nine. This is the way one should play – whether with a chamber orchestra or a big symphony orchestra. It’s about always communicating and reacting to each other. It’s the essence of making music.

Six years ago you set up the International Chamber Music Festival in Utrecht – why did you want to do this?
It was my dream to have my own chamber music festival. It’s so nice to do the programming, to invite the people you like playing with and to create the whole atmosphere. It’s at an unusual time of year, between Christmas and New Year, and there’s this festive and family atmosphere – we’re together in this cosy time of year. There are players who are there ever year. I play a lot with viola player Maxim Rysanov, cellist Torleif Thedéen and clarinettist Martin Fröst. For me it’s a wonderful thing to spend five days with my closest friends and family. I like feeling responsible for it – that the musicians are feeling good and everything is organised well. I feel like a mummy!

 

Interview by Rebecca Franks

To read all about this year's winners at the RPS awards, take a look at the June issue, on sale now

CD: Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto; Souvenir d'un lieu cher
Janine Jansen (violin); Mahler Chamber Orchestra/Daniel Harding
Decca 478 0651

Audio clip: Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto – Finale: Allegro vivacissimo
Image: Harrison Parrott

Related links:
Composer-conductor Graham Ross reveals the story behind his debut disc
French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet on Debussy

 

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