There were two excellent reasons to rock up to the Phil last week: the welcome return of Dutch violinist Janine Jansen (not seen here since 2011) and the second new work to come out of Project 19, the orchestra’s inspired program to commission 19 women composers as part of a celebration of the centenary of the 19th Amendment, the legislation that gave American women the vote in 1920.

Janine Jansen, Jaap Van Zweden and the New York Philharmonic. Photo © Chris Lee

Brahms’ Violin Concerto is rightly a mainstay of the repertoire, and Jansen was already a commanding presence in this work when I heard her play it five years ago in Sydney. It’s fair to say that in 2020 there is no finer interpreter, especially when paired with as sympathetic a musical partner as New York Philharmonic Music Director Jaap van Zweden. His expansive view of the work’s opening saw the orchestra respond with warm, swelling tone and an impressive weight. Inspired by the slashing orchestral strings, Jansen threw herself for her part into the gestural opening phrases like a dervish before the...

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