Author: Edward Seckerson, Gramophone Magazine June 2024


“So impressive. Janine Jansen essentially strips these pieces of all the years of what one might call ‘performance adornment’ and takes them back to their elemental roots. From Mäkelä and the Oslo Philharmonic the shimmer at the start of the Sibelius is a frosty haze that you can see rather than hear and from the moment Jansen starts into her ariosa the intensity of her almost painfully true intonation fixes you with its unflinching belief.

She is very much a voice of nature in the Sibelius, the cadenza most definitely a rant in praise of and in defiance of the elements. The tremendous orchestral climax which follows it is nature roaring back its affirmation. I make no apologies for purpler aspects of this review – these are the kind of performances that elicit a rush of feeling and thus of words.

I love that the slow movement and finale stand in such extreme contrast, the former a sorrowful song full of heartache (the last note of such fragility that it barely sounds at all), the latter a pantheistic knees-up where Jansens can pull out all the fireworks of her technique.

Pairing the Sibelius with the Prokofiev First pulls into focus the dreamy rapture of their opening statements. Sognando for sure. But once again Jansens rejoices in the huge dynamic contrasts that the piece throws up – the distinction, if you like, between dreams and nightmares. Her demonic Scherzo is pretty hair-raising, especially the sleazy Trio section which throws up all manner of coarseness down on the chesty lower strings.

If these pieces have anything in common (and they do) it lies with the way they relate so dramatically to their cultural landscapes. Jansens is so in tune with that and so too are Mäkelä’s Oslo orchestra, who both support and embolden her in exciting ways.”