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JEAN-JACQUES KANTOROW

Of Russian heritage, French-born Jean-Jacques Kantorow received all his training as a violinist in the Franco-Belgian tradition at the Conservatoires of Nice and Paris: his teacher at Paris was René Benedetti, who had learnt at the École César Franck. This is reflected in his discography of over 130 recordings, which leans strongly towards the virtuoso repertoire often favoured by French and Italian players throughout history. Within five years of graduating with a premier prix aged thirteen, Kantorow started winning prizes at major international competitions, including the London Carl Flesch, Genoa Paganini and Geneva International.

Combining the careers of soloist and conductor does not always work especially well. Some (for example Yehudi Menuhin) had notably effective solo careers but made conductors of indifferent abilities; others (such as Bruno Walter) proved to be architecturally strong but stylistically heavy-handed soloists. Kantorow appears to be one of the exceptions, and has appeared to critical acclaim in both rôles at all the major musical centres of Europe, North America, India, the Far East and Africa. He has held residencies with the Orchestre de l’Auvergne, the Helsinki Chamber Orchestra, the Ensemble Orchestrale de Paris, the Tapiola Sinfonietta and the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, and made guest appearances with ensembles including the Orchestre National de Lille, the Orchestre de Lyon, the Hallé Orchestra and the Bamberg Symphony. Teaching (notably in Paris and Rotterdam) is another important activity for Kantorow, along with chamber music, in which he has perhaps given his most successful performances in a piano trio with pianist Jacques Rouvier and cellist Philippe Muller.

The strength of his personality shows through in his recordings, here of mainly virtuoso violin music, and this is very much to his credit. His tonal aesthetic is very much in the twentieth-century post-war mould, but there is a depth and richness to his approach that is exceptional. He uses a quite strong vibrato (which can at times be rather wide, resulting in the flaccid sound heard in the finale of his Lalo Symphonie Espagnole) and a depth of intention and tone that is immediately arresting, making his performances strongly communicated. Kantorow seems at home in the language of Saint-Saëns, with a powerful and committed Introduction et Rondo Capriccioso (1998) and a fine Violin Concerto No. 3 (2004), both with the Tapiola Sinfonietta which he has also conducted. His Lalo (2007) is rather mixed, although the charismatic opening—pushing his instrument to its very limits—is exceptionally fine, as is Paganini’s Concerto No. 7 (recorded live at Paris’s 1982 Paganini bi-centenary celebrations), with a vivid stylistic approach. Not always technically perfect, Kantorow’s ‘on-the-edge’ musicianship sometimes pushes a little beyond his control; he can also be guilty of idiosyncrasies that some would undoubtedly find in bad taste, such as an exaggerated vibrato. Nonetheless, as a rich and powerful (if unadventurous) 1995 Beethoven Triple Concerto with Wallfisch and Roll shows, his playing admits variety according to stylistic context in a way that shows considerable thought.

Whilst there are, certainly, more accurate violinists in this modern age of astonishingly high technical standards, there are few who communicate more powerfully and directly (whether or not the stylistic decisions suit everybody). Kantorow is a fiery and impassioned player, truly in the spirit of the best of violin virtuosity.

© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Milsom (A–Z of String Players, Naxos 8.558081-84)


Albums featuring this artist are available for download from ClassicsOnline.com
View by Role: Classical Artist | Arranger | Conductor
Role: Classical Artist 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 

Role: Arranger 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
WEBER: Clarinet Concertos BIS
BIS-SACD-1523
Orchestral

Role: Conductor 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
AHO, K.: Chamber Symphonies Nos. 1-3 (Kelly, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Asbury, Kantorow) BIS
BIS-SACD-1126
Orchestral
APERITIF - A French Collection BIS
BIS-CD-1359
Concertos, Orchestral
BACRI, N.: Symphony No. 4, "Classique Sturm und Drang" / Flute Concerto / Concertos, Op. 80 (Batiashvili, Bezaly, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Kantorow) BIS
BIS-CD-1579
Concertos, Orchestral
BARTOK: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta / Divertimento and other works BIS
BIS-CD-740
Orchestral
Flute Recital: Bezaly, Sharon - BACRI, N. / BERNSTEIN, L. / DAN, B. / ROUSE, C. BIS
BIS-CD-1799
Concertos
KLAMI: Symphonie enfantine / Hommage a Handel / Suite for Strings / Suite for small orchestra BIS
BIS-CD-806
Orchestral
LINDBERG / HOLMBOE / LARSSON / AHO: Nordic Trombone Concertos BIS
BIS-CD-888
Orchestral
LINDBERG: Mandrake in the Corner / Arabenne BIS
BIS-CD-1148
World
MOZART: Horn Concertos Nos. 1-4 BIS
BIS-CD-1008
Concertos
MOZART: Serenades BIS
BIS-CD-1100
Orchestral
MOZART: Serenades Nos. 1 and 10 BIS
BIS-CD-1010
Orchestral
PALOMO: Cantos del alma / Sinfonia a Granada Naxos
8.570420
Orchestral
PART: Tabula Rasa / Frates / Collage sur BACH BIS
BIS-CD-834
Orchestral
RAUTAVAARA, E.: Concertos Ondine
ODE1156-2Q
Orchestral
RAUTAVAARA: Angel of Dusk / Symphony No. 2 / Suomalainen myytti / Pelimannit BIS
BIS-CD-910
Orchestral
SAINT-SAENS, C.: Africa / Symphony No. 2 / Symphony in F Major, "Urbs Roma" (L. Mikkola, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Kantorow) BIS
BIS-CD-790
Orchestral
SAINT-SAENS: Cello Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 / Symphony in A Major BIS
BIS-CD-956
Concertos, Orchestral
SAINT-SAENS: Music for Violin and Orchestra BIS
BIS-CD-860
Orchestral, Concertos, Orchestral
SAINT-SAENS: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 in D Major and 2 in G Minor BIS
BIS-CD-1040
Concertos, Orchestral, Concertos
SAINT-SAENS: Violin Concerto No. 2 / Spartacus / La muse et le poete BIS
BIS-CD-1060
Orchestral
SAINT-SAENS: Violin Concerto No. 3 / Caprice andalous BIS
BIS-CD-1470
Orchestral
SCHOENBERG: Verklarte Nacht / String Quartet No. 2 / Chamber Symphony No. 1 BIS
BIS-CD-703
Orchestral
SHOSTAKOVICH: Chamber Symphonies (Orchestrations by Rudolph Barshai) BIS
BIS-CD-1180
Orchestral
SIBELIUS / RAUTAVAARA / CRUSELL: Musical Souvenirs from Finland BIS
BIS-CD-1277
Orchestral
WEBER, C.M. von: Overtures (Tapiola Sinfonietta, Kantorow) BIS
BIS-SACD-1760
Orchestral
WEBER, C.M. von: Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2 / Bassoon Concerto / Andante e Rondo Ungarese (Luoma, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Kantorow) BIS
BIS-SACD-1620
Orchestral, Concertos
WEBER: Clarinet Concertos BIS
BIS-SACD-1523
Concertos, Orchestral





 
 
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