“Not only is she a great musician,” said conductor Thomas Søndergård, as he welcomed guest violinist Janine Jansen to the stage, “but she’s also a lovely, lovely person.” The warm smile that beamed out across a busy Usher Hall backed up Søndergård’s proclamation, but within seconds, Jansen was lost to us – in the best possible way.
The RSNO / Janine Jansen ****
Usher Hall, Edinburgh
Here to perform Sibelius’ Violin Concerto, she climbed inside the work and didn’t re-emerge until 30 minutes later, having captivated the room. During the Adagio in particular, it was as if Jensen was trying to speak to us from inside her violin, communicating with an urgency that clarified why her reputation stretches far beyond her native Netherlands.
Meanwhile, throughout the programme, Søndergård proved that his closeness to the orchestra as Principal Guest Conductor is paying increasing dividends.
Nowhere was this more apparent than in the short but sweet opening piece, Blumine. Composed by Mahler in 1884, originally as incidental music for a play, it packs more drama and emotion into eight minutes than some works manage in an hour. Søndergård held the piece in his hands like a fragile glass figurine, pulling in delicate power as required from the excellent Christopher Hart on trumpet.
Principal flautist Katherine Bryan played a similarly stand-out role in Beethoven’s Symphony No 7, which ended the night. A work of very distinct parts, dominated by the gorgeous second movement, the symphony showed once again that Søndergård knows exactly where to take this orchestra to deliver music that both moves and thrills.