Prokofiev

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COMPOSERS: Sergey Prokofiev
LABELS: Decca
ALBUM TITLE: Prokofiev
WORKS: Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 63; Sonata for two violins in C, Op. 56; Sonata for violin and piano in F minor, Op. 80 No. 1
PERFORMER: Janine Jansen (violin); Itamar Golan (piano); Boris Brovtsyn (violin); London Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Jurowski
CATALOGUE NO: 4783546

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Dark corners and strange transformative moments abound in the three Prokofiev works so boldly chosen here. Janine Jansen is the most subtle of interpreters, and always a sensitive partner. In the Second Violin Concerto, she keeps sentiment at bay, holding back for a sense of mystery in the first movement’s countersubject, and capturing an icy purity in the Concerto’s central song. She responds cannily to Prokofiev’s pared-back orchestral forces. This is not the usual patchwork of ideas, but an argument that Vladimir Jurowski keeps urgently on the move with the LPO soloists. Only in the finale does Jansen’s narrative seem lacking, never quite hurtling towards the abyss of this Spanish-inflected dance of death.

Jansen’s colleagues in the companion pieces are her equals, too. Boris Brovtsyn matches her otherworldly poise in the first and third movements of the Sonata for two violins. In Prokofiev’s dark, masterful Violin Sonata No. 1, the moments of headlong attack are more fully realised by pianist Itamar Golan (Jansen is no match for dedicatee David Oistrakh). Distant runs over bell-like piano chords suggest an unquiet wraith, the Sonata’s eerie flame flickering in a masterly account of the Ravelian slow movement.

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David Nice