BWW Review: JANINE JANSEN at CARNEGIE HALL - The Perfect End to a Weekend Celebrating Women
On the weekend of the women's march, it was refreshing to see a female at the helm of Carnegie's Sunday afternoon programming. Janine Jansen owned the stage with strength and conviction, cementing the importance of the female perspective in life, art, and business - proving the perfect cap to an important weekend.
She began the afternoon with Debussy's Violin Sonata (a far more dynamic programmatic choice than the later slotted Grieg - which fell slightly flat, compositionally). Jansen showed an intimate understanding of deep sorrow and madness, imbibing the music with palpable passions. Her playing truly soared when she leaned into this deep emotional understanding and she proved effortlessly at home in its virtuosic demands.
Grieg's Sonata No. 2 in G Major gave her the perfect opportunity to showcase her talent. She drenched the cloyingly simple melodies with immersive emotional complexity, which possessed roots so deep and winding they led the listener on a nuanced journey, eventually making it impossible to determine the genesis of the pilgrimage. Her success with this piece is a true testament to her abilities.
The second half of the program was dedicated to Chausson's Concert for Violin, Piano and String Quartet, Op. 21, which Jansen expertly executed in collaboration with Jean-Yves Thibaudet and the Dover Quartet. At key moments in the piece, the music danced into the air, the players melding into one another with ease - creating an orgy of sound, making it near impossible to determine where one member ended or began. The beauty and luxury of their dance was the perfect hangover cure after a celebratory resistance from the day before.
Jansen consistently grounded herself and her playing in a deep plié, highlighting that her performances are intended to be experienced in one's entire body. Her pain was palpable - you could feel it in your gut. There was nothing surface level about her approach to this program and it was alarmingly apparent to anyone within a 5-block radius. At times, her middle range dipped in and out of the vibrant presence she'd established in the rest of her playing, occasionally getting lost in the texture of the ensemble. This, however, is a very minor critique compared to the major successes of the afternoon.
Thibaudet deserves particular accolades for his expert handling of the thrilling climax in the third movement. He led the ensemble with driving force and virtuosic mastery through one of the most compelling passages of the day. Bravi to all involved.
Photo Credits: Steve J. Sherman