‘I am very demanding on myself, as well as my colleagues,” admits Dutch violinist Janine Jansen with a smile, on the eve of her performance in the framework of the International Stars chamber series. Jansen performs, together with her ensemble, Schubert’s String Quintet in C Major and Schoenberg’s Verklarte Nacht. “Perfection is unattainable,” she continues, “so it is really about the search for perfection, which never ends.”

After the three concerts, jansen and the ensemble – which includes violinist Boris Brovtsyn, violists Amihai Grosz and Maxim Rysanov and cellists Jens Peter Maintz and Torleif Thedeen – will continue to several European venues and will eventually record the pieces for Decca.

“I believe that this is the most effective way of perfecting the pieces,” says Jansen, “we will work on them so intensively and listen to the recordings of the concert. The presence of an audience influences this process, as spontaneous, precious things can happen during live performance.”

Jansen is known as a solo performer with a vivid music personality. How does it fit with playing chamber music?

“I was born into a musical family,” she explains. “My two brothers are also musicians. I’ve been playing chamber music from an early age and it has, in some way, shaped me as a musician. This is rather a question of the overall approach to music making – one can play in full accordance with 100 orchestra members as well.”

Jansen’s repertoire is rich and varied. “I certainly play pieces that I like, but I also want to be versatile because I think it keeps you flexible and fresh and makes you hungry for more.”

She also plays contemporary music, and later this year she and Julian Rachlin will perform a world premiere in Vienna of the new Double Concerto by Krzysztof Penderecki, written by the Polish composer especially for them.

“I admire Penderecki. I have played his chamber music. He is an amazing, warm person and such a perfectionist. He is not easily satisfied – if something is not good enough, it simply is not good! And nowadays, when everything has become faster and we don’t have enough time to go to the depth, this quality becomes even more precious. Cooperation with composers of my generation is another thing. These are people who know your capabilities really well. They send you three pages of the score and then we discuss it together so passionately. It is a such an interesting process!”

Jansen lives in Utrecht and feels at ease in her native city. World famous as she is, she has not become a celebrity who is hounded by autograph seekers. She recently bought a place of her own. Although music takes up most of her time, she also enjoys gardening, cooking, meeting with friends, reading and going to the movies. “I am enjoying this incredible thing that is called life!” she says.

This December, Jansen’s chamber music festival in Utrecht celebrates its 10th anniversary. “The end of December and Christmas time is not so usual for festivals, but I choose it especially because there’s not so much music at this period and I thought that maybe entire families would like to come. The festival has always been very intensive because it lasts only five days.

I do not work with themes. We just play pieces we all like, the things I like to play together with my core group, my close musical friends, like those with whom I have come this time to Israel. It’s like a family, and although it sounds like a cliché, it is true. And then we add more new faces. We perform varied programs – it can be Baroque but also contemporary, both familiar and less-known pieces,” she says.

Jansen explains that time is always lacking at festivals, and that is why the very existence of the core group, which often plays together, is essential quality-wise.

“At the beginning and even five years ago, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s great. Let’s get together, and after a rehearsal or two we’ll perform for the public.’ But now I look for more depth in the performance,” she says.

May 9 at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (03) 607-7070. On May 10 at the YMCA in Jerusalem (02) 623- 4347. And on May 12 at the Rappaport Concert Hall in Haifa (04) 835-3506

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