A taste of Janine Jansen

September 8, 2018, 10:19 PM · Over on the Hilary Hahn thread, one person said they'd never heard of Janine Jansen.

Not sure if this is the best video of her, but it will give a taste to find others if desired:

Janine Jansen performing Britten

Or, if you just want the link in text:


Replies (50)

September 8, 2018, 10:24 PM · Here's a performance group I think she organized. I like their interplay.

Janine Jansen plays Vivaldi

September 9, 2018, 2:09 AM · Or this Brahms Concerto in a more clement hall (the Amsterdam Concertgebouw) with Haitink and the COE
September 9, 2018, 9:40 AM · She has been performing for a while-should not be deemed an "obscure" violinist by any stretch of the imagination. Though the only time I saw her play (I never include youtube, as it's a different experience altogether), I heard her perform a modern work with verve-have not seen her play any of the "workhorses" live.

In this regard, I don't think it's useful to make vs lists, because one can prefer one over the other without any need to belittle the unfavored violinist's artistry.

There are far more obscure players than either of these artists that are genuine jewels of our current musical world. Not aimed at Mr. Ford or Ms. Hahn's fans but to all of us-be wary of "big name syndrome", and listen/explore everywhere for great music (though there's nothing wrong with liking or preferring many of the better-known names.)

September 9, 2018, 9:58 AM · Has she won any of the major competitions before?
September 9, 2018, 10:08 AM · I was not proffering this as a HH vs JJ thing. I was just responding to someone on the HH thread saying they'd never heard of Janine Jansen before. So far, I do like JJ better, but the post was not meant to say she was better than HH, just providing a link for someone to judge for themself.
September 9, 2018, 10:10 AM · @Adalberto, please provide some names of these lesser known performers so I can check them out. Thanks.
September 9, 2018, 10:32 AM · I heard that JJ's career was boosted by getting a few choice British engagements when orchs refused to pay ASM's fee.
September 9, 2018, 10:41 AM · "David Ford
September 9, 2018, 10:10 AM · @Adalberto, please provide some names of these lesser known performers so I can check them out. Thanks."

This would be a more interesting thread, indeed. David, shall we get it started?

Edited: September 9, 2018, 11:08 AM · here, or another thread? Seems it's started here, of sorts, but might get more response on a thread where the title said it all. I just tried, but I was still within 24 hours of my last post, so I can't do it now.

Go for it Nuuska.

Edited: September 9, 2018, 1:15 PM · I saw a YouTube backstage interview with Janine and it showed her opening her Musafia case and it had a custom black and white zebra striped lining which I really liked.
September 9, 2018, 1:27 PM · "I heard that JJ's career was boosted by getting a few choice British engagements when orchs refused to pay ASM's fee."

You may have heard this, but that doesn't make it true. Unfortunately the music world is full of these urban myths. The interesting part of this myth is that it kind of pits one female violinist against another. As if orchestras ask agents for a she violinist and pick one they can afford.

"Has she won any of the major competitions before?"

Jansen AFAIK did not rise to fame through competitions, but by giving a lpt of concerts in a part of th world where there are a lot of concert opportunities.

September 9, 2018, 2:01 PM · Now THAT is a real violinist, and certainly not a robotic one.

For me, she is certainly the best violinist of our time, blows everybody else out of the track and leaves them far behind.

She is a huge star. Here in Europe, she is much bigger than Hahn.
And I guess that’s for a reason :p

September 9, 2018, 2:42 PM · Jansen doesn't vaguely qualify as an obscure violinist. She's played at the Proms repeatedly, I believe. Hardly someone toiling in obscurity. ;-)

I like her playing a great deal, but I've only ever heard it on YouTube.

September 9, 2018, 3:02 PM · Perhaps it is time to notice that, at this era of globalisation, there seems to exist an invisible barrier between Europe and North America. Some violinist, for whatever reason, chose not to cross the ocean. Then, out if ignorance, one may say obscure... There are many fine violinists and chamber musicians on both and other continents.
September 9, 2018, 3:16 PM · Choose not to, or not being asked? I don’t really know how that works.
Edited: September 9, 2018, 4:21 PM · Again, "not choosing to cross the ocean" is counterfactual.

Janine Jansen was the protagonist of a widely lauded and publicised Carnegie Hall Perspectives series just last December thru March.


As I recall she played Debussy and Grieg with pianist Jacques-Yves Thibaudet.

There's a Janine Jansen Debussy sonata with Itamar Golan on youtube which clearly shows her technique:


September 9, 2018, 4:56 PM · JJ is definitely very popular in our “American” household, probably one of our favorite soloists on YouTube. I would love to watch her perform live.

I don’t really get HH’s sense of pulse but I still love her Mozart.

September 9, 2018, 7:54 PM · There are indeed quite big difference between being famous in Europe and famous in America. Lisa Batiashvili is another example. I heard Janine Jansen live in a recital consisting of two Beethoven sonatas, a fantastic experience. Like many said she is one of the absolute top violinists.
September 9, 2018, 8:13 PM · I would love to start a list of obscure violinists, but just at the moment I can't think of their names.
September 10, 2018, 5:30 AM · Jansen is an amazing player!
September 10, 2018, 9:26 AM · I love Janine Jansen - saw her last year at the Perspectives series at Carnegie Hall.

Her rendition of Mythes (can be found on YouTube) is fabulous. Sadly, I missed her performance of it last year at Carnegie Hall.

I don't get Hillary Hahn, I understand why people love her and her playing, but she doesn't do anything for me.

Edited: September 10, 2018, 9:50 AM · JJ doesn't seem to "enjoy" the same polarized response as HH, at least given the discussions on here. However, I will keep trying to find HH work that I like.

I've also been experiencing similar reactions to Joshua Bell. I've not found anything yet of his that grabs me. Admittedly, I haven't done a LOT of research on the matter. I'll keep looking. I assume these people have made a name for themselves with good reason, but I've not been moved yet.

September 10, 2018, 10:01 AM · My favorite HH recordings: Her Barber/Meyer disc, and her Lark Ascending.
September 10, 2018, 10:59 AM · Lark is interesting. Watching on YouTube. This is one where the video works better for me. For Barber/Meyer, the music itself is not top of my list at the moment. Again, I'm a novice, but in Lark, her control of the violin and sound is impressive, with all the longer, sometimes slower bow strokes, etc. No volume issues either!!! ;-)
September 10, 2018, 11:17 AM · I actually haven’t discovered any truly great American violinist in my life yet. Seems like all the good players are on the other side of the Atlantic
September 10, 2018, 11:42 AM · Getting "moved" is a very individual reaction-there are a few well-known players that I admit are excellent, but always leave me wondering whether they are just sons/daughters of the marketing apparatus. Even then, many would genuinely be moved by their music, so I am wary of making my subjective observations about these great players public, lest I unintentionally deprive someone of a great musical moment in their lives (note I do really like many of these well-known performers.)

This is also why I am wary of concert reviews, something I actually like, because many would just praise the performer no matter what, and others would do the opposite (though the latter is less common nowadays). I feel-and I may be wrong-that the reviews we read are hardly critical towards the bigger names, and the less known the violinist is, they feel freer to be "honest" about their subjective biases, positive or negative, as if they had much more to prove (maybe, maybe not.)

In any case, I assume anyone could find a number of excellent reviews to prove me wrong. It's just an observation of mine, where I feel some of the bigger names could not ever do any wrong vs the "unprotected", "lesser" names.

(And at that level, all are really good, like them or not.)

September 10, 2018, 11:56 AM · Adalberto, please start a thread listing some of these lesser known players.
September 10, 2018, 11:57 AM · Mr. Reshetkin,

There is quite a number, but sometimes our background, preferences, and subconscious bias doesn't allow us to easily accept greatness outside of our "comfort zone." I maybe prefer more non-americans artists myself, but can easily think of many great american violinists.

I long ago renounced a nationalist worldview, because it tends to (surprise) divide, and in our current "ease of access" world, we shouldn't denominate/generalize about players by "schools" alone. When I was young I was told horrendous stuff about american violinists, as if they must innately be musically inferior, because of what I now deem nationalist views, rather than fair assessments. I quickly figured there's greatness and not-so-much-greatness in every country and "violin school" of the world.

With all this said-and since "great violinist" is as subjective a term one could find-it's OK for us to just not think alike.

Edited: September 10, 2018, 12:25 PM · "I actually haven’t discovered any truly great American violinist in my life yet."

Aaron Rosand ... not a great violinist? He was born in Indiana, and he was just as good of a violinist in his prime as Oistrakh or Milstein. So was Josh Bell. Isaac Stern was born in the Ukraine but emigrated to San Francisco as a toddler. Sarah Chang was born in Philadelphia, Stefan Jackiw in Boston. What about the great concertmasters Glenn Dicterow, David Nadien, and Joseph Silverstein. Then there is Leila Josefowicz (oops -- she's Canadian) and Rachel Barton Pine (baroque specialist, but I wish I could play Bach like that -- don't you?). And please don't forget Michael Rabin and Oscar Shumsky.

September 10, 2018, 12:59 PM · That’s what I’m saying Paul. All the players you listed are certainly very good, and among the top 1000, but none of them are truly ‘great’ to me. Their musicianship pales in comparison to that of, say, Janine Jansen or Leonidas Kavakos.

With the exception maybe of Stern, he’s probably in the top 50.

And Alberto, it has nothing to do with a ‘nationalistic feeling’.

September 10, 2018, 2:02 PM · probably also worth remembering that a fair number of the non-american violinists, like Augustin Hadelich, did a substantial amount of their training in the US...
September 10, 2018, 3:11 PM · I wouldn't call Rachel Barton Pine a baroque specialist -- not remotely so. Her repertoire and discography are extremely wide.
September 10, 2018, 3:30 PM · It's your opinion, Mr. Reshetkin. I like Kavakos myself. And actually like some of this "not great" violinists of yours more than the subject of this thread, even from the standpoint of artistry and music-all of them have good technique anyway (which is not meant to take away anything from Ms. Jansen AT ALL.)

Music taste is too subjective-what someone calls "inspiring", another may call "bland". One just has to respect them all and listen to those who you enjoy. I would even advice for people to attend concerts of those musicians they do not think "great" so as to learn something from that evening's performance.

(And what I heard at music school myself WAS nationalistic-"their" hatred for a so-called "american school" was not fair, much less properly based on reality. I am glad it's not that petty reason in your case.)

Edited: September 10, 2018, 5:12 PM · Sorry but I think Jansen is a great violinist but she has a ways to go before I put her in the same category as Rosand. Rosand is better than Stern. Rosand's tone, with his signature rich vibrato, drills right into your soul. Actually that's what I like about Hahn. Someone said she has a thin sound, but I hear just the opposite. I hear tremendously focused tone.

@Lydia perhaps I mischaracterized Pine but since we're talking here about how people tend to be known, well, to a significant extent that's how she's known. Glenn Gould recorded a wide variety of stuff too ... but the first thing you think when you hear his name is "Bach specialist."

September 10, 2018, 6:22 PM · I don't think of Pine as a Baroque specialist at all... in fact, I had no idea for years that she had made any Baroque recordings at all! Among my social circles, she seems to be known mainly for her recording of Bruch's Scottish Fantasy (which I think is better than Heifetz's), and I see her mostly as a champion of obscure repertoire.

Also, maybe illustrative of the importance of personal taste... what's special about Kavakos? He sounds to me just like most of the other violin soloists out there. I'd take a dozen American violinists over him. (I do think Jansen is a top-tier violinist, though.)

September 10, 2018, 9:05 PM · I agree with Andrew on Rachel Barton Pine. (Also her Bach recording didn't appear until 2016. I actually haven't heard it.)

I actually think her discography has been very smartly chosen throughout, recording a lot of uncommon repertoire.

September 10, 2018, 9:11 PM · I wonder if people are confusing Rachel Barton Pine and Rachel Podger?
September 10, 2018, 9:56 PM · On the topic of bringing spotlight to lesser known violinists, I nominate Tianwa Yang.
Her interpretations of Sarasate and Ysaye are the ones that have moved me most, by far, of any other I have.

She is a violinist that I follow and I am looking forward her publishing works from as many composers as possible. Can't wait to hear her Bach, actually.

Another one who gives me goosebumps is Federico Guglielmo. His early Italian Baroque is outstanding. Best Vivaldi, Tartini and... well. Anything he plays is perfect technically and emotionally IMO.

September 10, 2018, 11:48 PM · My vote goes for Eric Selberger who isn’t exactly obscure but he should get more love. His intelligence comes through in his playing.

September 11, 2018, 2:06 AM · Andrew, Kavakos became quite the bland player in recent years, but what he did when younger was absolutely amazing. And he’s one of the few violinists who looks and analyzes parts other than his own violin part.
September 11, 2018, 3:15 AM · "Sorry but I think Jansen is a great violinist but she has a ways to go before I put her in the same category as Rosand. Rosand is better than Stern."

Personally I would put Stern in the category "Very Successful Violinist" rather than Great, though he may have done some great things early on. I'm wondering whether the same will happen to Perlman.

There is a very exciting generation of (mostly female) violinists taking over, as it were. They are mostly European, though obviously Hilary Hahn is not, but Lisa Biatishvili, Julia Fischer and Janine Jansen are, and there are more to come.

It's only natural that people stick to their old favorites and say "I hardly know Jansen but X with whom I grew up is waaay better, because that's what I'm used to." If American chauvinism is thrown into the mix as well all bets are off.

Edited: September 11, 2018, 1:25 PM · Deleted for non-chauvinist reasons.
Edited: September 11, 2018, 1:28 PM · Chauvinism doesn't mean "male chauvinism", Adalberto. It's something like patriotism, supporting one's own group.
September 11, 2018, 1:22 PM · No worries; will delete my post above then.
September 11, 2018, 3:12 PM · "Chauvinism" these days tends to be used specifically in the context of "male chauvinism". Excessive patriotism tends to be called "jingoism".
September 11, 2018, 4:38 PM · Back to the OT...

Big fan of Janine Jansen here (and Hilary Hahn for that matter). JJ's performances are always full of fire, and it is clear she really dives into the depths of what the piece is about.

One of my favorite recordings/videos of her isn't even a solo piece, but the Souvenir de Florence by Tchaikovsky. What an ensemble!


I love watching how she "conducts" with her facial expressions.

September 11, 2018, 7:49 PM · In my experience Janine Jansen belong to the top few violinists world-wide by measure of fame.

Indeed, if you google her name together with other famous female violinists and look at the number of results - you can try it:

Janine Jansen: 5,190,000 results

Anne Sophie Mutter: 4,460,000 results

Hilary Hahn: 5,980,000 results

In another league for popularity, last.fm ranks Janine third behind Hilary Hahn and Anne Sophie Mutter, in terms of number of listeners.


September 11, 2018, 9:15 PM · Irene -- yes I think you're right.
Edited: September 12, 2018, 4:19 AM · "Chauvinism" these days tends to be used specifically in the context of "male chauvinism". Excessive patriotism tends to be called "jingoism".

Well, I'm sorry, but that's inaccurate.

Frankly I don't hear the word "jingoism" a lot, but anyway, "jingoism" means aggressive nationalism, usually accompanied with hate of other countries. So you don't just say "Italy is the best country on earth," but you also say "And we need to teach those Greeks a lesson."

Chauvinism is basically a form of tribalistic pride, the way kids say, "Our school is the best."

"Male chauvinism" has become a phrase, and the existence of that phrase indicates that, the male part (no pun intended) is not included in the chauvinist part, because chauvinism comes in all kinds.

September 15, 2018, 7:41 AM · Janine Jansen is an amazing chamber musician, which really can't be said of a lot of other major soloists, in my opinion! That's what really impresses me about her.

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