Bruch, Mendelssohn

COMPOSERS: Bruch,Mendelssohn
ALBUM TITLE: Violin Concertos
WORKS: Violin Concerto No. 1; Romance
PERFORMER: Janine Jansen; Gewandhaus Orchestra/Riccardo Chailly
CATALOGUE NO: 475 8133
Make no mistake. This is a very talented young player, bursting with things she wants to tell us about all three pieces recorded here – and what a delightful filler the Bruch Romance makes! It would be hard to imagine anything less like routine polished ‘prodigy’ performances. And so long as performance in itself is your priority, you may well be satisfied by what Janine Jansen does here: when hearing such exquisite moments in the Mendelssohn as her pianissimo lead into the first movement’s second theme, to offer criticism feels like hyper-carping. But as interpretations these are still some way short of great. The problem lies to large extent in how much Jansen seems to want to say. It isn’t just the big dramatic strokes or moments of intense poetry: almost every detail, every tiny inflection is so charged with meaning that there are times when the expression comes close to bursting point. Is that necessarily a bad thing? Well, for me, in a great performance there has to be a balance between the intensity of the moment and sense of the work as a whole – the whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. Here the links are so striking, so captivating, that it’s impossible to see the chain they’re supposed to form. For a more mature but just as exciting youngster go to Nikolaj Znaider (RCA) in the Mendelssohn, or better still Maxim Vengerov – still the modern leader when it comes to the two concertos. Stephen Johnson