Janine Jansen / Itamar Golan

Beau Soir

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Dutch violin virtuoso Janine Jansen turns her considerable talents to Impressionist and post-Romantic French repertoire in this album devoted to music evocative of the evening, night, and dreams. The recital includes the premiere recordings of three brief works by contemporary French composer Richard Dubugnon, and while they would not be mistaken for products of the early 20th century, their language and sensibility are very much linked to the works of Debussy, Fauré, Lili Boulanger, Messiaen, and Ravel that make up the rest of the album. Jansen has been a generalist, recording works from Vivaldi and Bach to Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Britten. French music has not been a large presence in her repertoire, although she played the premiere of Dubugnon's Violin Concerto, which he wrote for her. For the most part she avoids the wispiness that can afflict interpretations of "Impressionist" repertoire, a term Debussy hated. That delicacy is perfectly suited, however, to Heifetz's arrangement of Debussy's early song, Beau soir. She's entirely successful in Ravel's vigorous Sonata in G major, and she nicely captures the looseness of the music's vernacular elements. Dubugnon's character pieces are lyrical, lovely, and expertly scored. Pianist Itamar Golan provides a strong, nuanced, and idiomatically sensitive accompaniment. Decca's sound is clean and vivid. The closeness of the miking may be a problem for listeners who do not enjoy hearing a player's breathing as a significant performance element. The predictability of Jansen's sniffs as pickups to every phrase, with their volume a sure predictor of the intensity of the phrase, can wear very thin very quickly and mars an otherwise lovely performance.

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