For the first time in history, twelve of the finest violins ever made by Antonio Stradivari have travelled across the world to be recorded in one album for a ground-breaking new project between violinist Janine Jansen, Decca Classics and J & A Beare.
The resulting album, 12 Stradivari, captures the individual characteristics of each instrument in a specifically curated repertoire accompanied by Sir Antonio Pappano. Janine and Pappano selected pieces of the classical repertoire to highlight the ongoing dialogue between past and present. Playing Henry Vieuxtemps’ Romances on the very same 1710 Stradivari he owned, or Fritz Kreisler’s Liebesleid on his 1733 Stradivari felt not only appropriate but significant too. Other violins were matched with pieces by composers such as Sarasate and Szymanovsky while others still were based on Janine’s sensibility.
Some of these 12 violins have not been played for many decades and, possibly, have never been commercially recorded. Others belonged to legendary virtuosi, including Fritz Kreisler, Nathan Milstein, Ida Haendel and Oscar Shumsky.
Janine herself is widely considered to be one of the greatest violinists of our time, and this album is her first release with Decca in 6 years.
The project was devised by Steven Smith, Managing Director of J & A Beare. Having worked with Stradivari instruments his entire career, he wanted to bring 12 of the very best violins together to show their brilliance and also their differences. At the same time he sought to record for posterity their sounds in one single, unique record and approached Janine and Decca for the extraordinary project. Smith knew where in the world the 12 violins were and who owned them. In spite of numerous logistical challenges, made far worse by the travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic, Steven was able to create a two-week period when all violins could be flown to London for this exceptional undertaking.
Janine said: “When Steven approached me about this project, I knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It was my chance to experience the magic of these famous instruments and to explore the differences between them, especially bearing in mind that some of them had not been played in many years. I was very fortunate to be able to share this experience with my wonderful collaborator, Sir Antonio Pappano.”
As a master of her craft, Janine’s recording debut in 2003 achieved epic success within the initial rise of digital sales, and to date, she has sold 850,000 units with Decca and achieved over 100 million streams. Janine has won numerous prizes, including the Herbert-von-Karajan Preis 2020, the Vermeer Prize 2018 awarded by the Dutch Government, five Edison Klassiek Awards, NDR Musikpreis for outstanding artistic achievement, the Royal Philharmonic Society instrumentalists Award for performances in the UK, and the Concertgebouw Prize to name just a few.
This unique project is brilliantly captured through an unmissable documentary titled, “Janine Jansen: Falling for Stradivari” which follows Janine’s experience as she discovers each instrument’s individual qualities and capabilities. More details of the documentary can be found here.