Richly Rewarding Wigmore Hall Recital from Janine Jansen and Alexander Gavrylyuk

14/03/2019

Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann, Brahms and Franck: Janine Jansen (violin), Alexander Gavrylyuk (piano), Wigmore Hall, London, 12.3.2019. (AS)

Janine Jansen

Robert Schumann – Violin Sonata No.1 in A minor, Op.105
Clara Schumann – Three Romances for violin and piano, Op.22
Brahms -Violin Sonata No.2 in A, Op.100
Franck -Violin Sonata in A

The first half of this recital cleverly juxtaposed three composers who had personal involvements with each other – a man and his wife, and a man who was close to the wife after her husband died. It was striking that the composer with by far the least reputation, Clara Schumann, was not at all outclassed in comparison with her two famous lovers – or probably in the case of Brahms, merely her admirer.

Clara’s Three Romances are warmly romantic in nature and possess a strong and naturally flowing melodic content. The first is rhythmically intriguing, for it has a gentle but insistent rocking motion; the second expands with lots of easy-going charm, and the third has some delightful repeated patterns in the piano part. Not only are the pieces put together very skilfully, but their quality of invention is high. It was clear from Jansen and Gavrylyuk’s intensely dedicated playing that their regard for them is very high.

Schumann’s First Violin Sonata shows elements of anguish and this component was strongly communicated by the performers. But the more easeful aspects of the Sonata were conveyed too, with some lovely, tender phrasing in the central Allegretto and high spirits sometimes dominating the music’s underlying sense of anxiety in the scampering last movement. The mixture of toughness and resilience juxtaposed with lyricism in the Brahms Sonata was finely characterised, and there was some particularly rapt playing from both artists in the more slow-moving sections of the middle Andante movement.

Jansen’s playing is intriguing in that she does not particularly conjure any distinctive warmth of tone from her Stradivarius instrument. Her vibrato is a little more rapid than that cultivated by many of her colleagues, and though her technique is utterly secure she sometimes – and no doubt deliberately – alights not bang in the middle of a note but very slightly on its sharp side, possibly to intensify expression. The beauty and distinction of her playing comes more from her superb, natural and sensitive phrasing. Gavrylyuk is a superlative pianist, with a lovely warm tone quality and seemingly boundless – but effortless – technique. The two artists have frequently played together and clearly have a very close, intuitive artistic relationship.

Their qualities were shown most clearly in the Franck Sonata. Poor César Franck. Not only is he always referred to with his first name attached, as if he always needs to be distinguished from other and lesser composers who have the same surname, but given his quality he is quite unfairly neglected, except in the organ loft and in performances of the Violin Sonata, which thankfully retains a regular place in the repertoire. It is a superb work, melodically fluent, harmonically piquant and superbly constructed with material from all four movements related to each other (somehow the note writer avoided the term ‘cyclical form’). It sounded perfectly at home in the company of Brahms and Schumann. The performance was superlative: the opening Allegretto was a little more introspective than usual, which somehow gave extra contrast to Franck’s characteristic blend of refined sensuality and classical restraint. There was a quite turbulent, very passionate quality of expression in the following Allegro movement; the Recitativo-Fantasia had an intriguingly ruminative quality and in the final Allegretto the experience was of peace and uplifting warmth. Quite rightly, the performance elicited the most enthusiastic audience reaction of the evening, and Jansen and Gavrylyuk responded by playing Lili Boulanger’s Nocturne as an encore.

Alan Sanders

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Edinburgh Usher Hall 2019-2020 Orchestral Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2020 Ring Cycles __________________________________
  • NEW! Roman River 2019 Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Ex Cathedra’s 50th Anniversary Season in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Geneva Grand Théâtre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2019-20 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden __________________________________
  • NEW! Bregenz Festival 17 July – 18 August 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Musikfest Berlin 2019 from 30 August to 19 September __________________________________
  • NEW! 2019 BBC Proms 19 July – 14 September __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera House in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Opera in 2019-2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Adrian Partington Introduces the 2019 Three Choirs Festival in Conversation with John Quinn __________________________________
  • NEW! ENB in 2019-2020 and Updates on their New London City Island Home __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music and Other Events at the Southbank Centre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Cleveland Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! CHORUS MASTER STEPHEN DOUGHTY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Ron Howard’s Pavarotti in Cinemas 13 July (Preview) and Nationwide (15 July) __________________________________
  • NEW! MULTI-FACETED MUSICIAN JOY LISNEY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Ballet Announces Winners of Emerging Dancer 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR THOMAS SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! In August Fulham Opera’s Most Ambitious Project to Date – Die Meistersinger Von Nürnberg __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM ANDRÉ PREVIN (1929-2019) __________________________________
  • NEW! CHRISTOPHE ROUSSET IN CONVERSATION WITH COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR ÁDÁM FISCHER IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • MAESTRO RICCARDO FRIZZA IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR LAURENCE EQUILBEY IN CONVERSATION WITH COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month