MONDAY, November 11, 2019
Janine Jansen is a relatively young violinist…
I have a love-hate relationship with the violin. If it is badly played, I want it out of my life, and unfortunately that includes the playing of most violinists. I grew up in a home where strings just weren’t liked or appreciated, and my mother always said, “I just don’t violin”. But later she fell in love with a couple of my recordings, so I guess she had never heard the violin played well. It is a horribly difficult instrument to play beautifully, so often scratchy, strident, out of tune and altogether unpleasant to listen to. Maybe we are much more picky when we know nothing, and I know nothing about the violin. I just know what I like.
I heard this in my car, listening to Sirius radio, and in fact I was interrupted with the world’s fastest hair cut. I was listening to the first movement, got to Supercuts and figured I would never find out who was playing. But I was in and out and caught the third movement. Sirius does not show who is playing, only what, so if you don’t catch the end of something you never find out who played. The announce the performer at the end.
Recordings have not improved that much, so listening in a car, without earphones, something recorded in around 1960 or 1970 will sound pretty much as good as something recorded last year, but on earphones you can hear a difference. This recording is really well done, so the sound is excellent. I had never heard of Janine Jansen. She reminds me of both Joshua bell and Nathan Milstein. I think she gets a really sweet sound in this, and her control over vibrato and pitch is exceptional.
Any concerto is a collaboration, and no matter how good the soloist is, without a great orchestra and a superb conductor it all falls flat. I would buy this recording in a heartbeat.
For comparison, from much longer ago, but still in the era of modern recordings…
I hear incredible similarities in the playing. I’d bet $20 on the spot that Janine grew up hearing Milstein playing this. The link is very strong, and Milstein was 57 in this recording from 1961.
There is really very little difference in recording quality unless you have a sophisticated sound system. By the early 60s the technology was already very close to where it is right now in terms of what we normally hear, and unfortunately we still are mostly stuck with two tracks for two ears most of the time when using ear phones even though quadraphonic sound already was sounding great in the 70s. However, if you have the money and the set up for modern surround sound, these recent recordings should sound spectacular.