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MARISS JANSONS

Mariss Jansons’s earliest memories are of his father, the conductor Arvid Jansons, conducting opera and ballet: ‘As a very small boy, three years old, I was always observing… I went to my father’s rehearsals. When I came home, I put my book on the table and started to conduct. I changed my trousers because they were for rehearsal, not for concert. I played at being artistic director, drawing up programmes for subscription seasons.’ He learnt to play the violin in Riga, and in 1957 entered the Leningrad Conservatory, where he studied conducting with Rabinovich, as well as the piano and violin. He made his public conducting debut prior to graduating with honours and then studied with Hans Swarowsky at the Vienna Academy of Music from 1969 to 1972. Having been assistant to Herbert von Karajan at Salzburg in 1969 and 1970, Jansons took first prize at the International von Karajan Foundation Conducting Competition in 1971 and in the same year was appointed associate conductor of the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, working with the orchestra’s distinguished chief conductor Evgeny Mravinsky. The influence of this period in his career was great, especially in terms of standards and expectations. ‘The atmosphere was so pressured,’ he has recalled. ‘Mravinsky demanded such high standards, everybody was afraid to fall below. There was Richter, Gilels, (David) Oistrakh—such quality.’

In 1979 Jansons was appointed to his first chief conductorship, taking charge of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, whose standards he raised significantly. With this orchestra he made many recordings including a highly praised cycle of the Tchaikovsky symphonies, and toured extensively throughout Europe (including appearances at the Salzburg Festival and at the Promenade Concerts in London) and the Far East, both activities greatly enhancing the reputations of conductor and orchestra. He became the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra’s associate principal conductor in 1985, a position which he retained until 1999. In addition to his work in the USSR and Norway, Jansons was also active during this time in Great Britain, conducting the BBC National Symphony Orchestra of Wales frequently, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, of which he was principal guest conductor from 1992 to 1997. As with most conductors of Jansons’s calibre, the work involved with these permanent positions was combined with guest appearances with most of the major European and American orchestras, such as the Berlin Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Royal Amsterdam Concertgebouw and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras. He also maintained the distinguished Russian tradition of teaching conducting when in 1995 he became professor of conducting at the St Petersburg Conservatory, as his father had been before him.

Jansons’s career took a decisive step forward in 1997 when he became the chief conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in succession to Lorin Maazel. Here too he dramatically improved the standards of the orchestra, an achievement which was acknowledged on its numerous foreign tours even though the orchestra had to work hard at home to increase audience levels. In 1996 Jansons suffered a heart attack while conducting a performance of La Bohème in Oslo and as a result had to take more care of his health. In 2002 he therefore decided not to renew his contract with the Pittsburgh Orchestra after the end of the 2003–2004 concert season and to reduce his work in North America, thus cutting down considerably on travelling. He accepted instead the appointments of chief conductor of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, once again in succession to Maazel, with effect from the autumn of 2003, and of chief conductor of the Royal Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra from the autumn of 2004.

In style, Jansons’s conducting is a powerful combination of discipline and inspiration. At his best, he has the ability to invest scores with a range of colour and timbre achieved by very few other conductors. He is extremely demanding of orchestral players without being autocratic or overbearing and will try many different approaches to interpretation. Intensive rehearsal produces readings in which the level of musical nuance and subtlety is unusually high: at the same time Jansons is not wholly predictable in performance and will often use the inspiration of the moment to make fresh demands upon his players. The associate concert-master of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has commented on this: ‘Mariss expects intuitive playing and aspires to changing the playing nightly. He expects a kind of musical intuition and a personal involvement.’ The purpose of this approach is to go beyond the notes to a deeper experience: to quote Jansons himself, ‘Imagination is what players expect from a conductor. You must give them what is behind the notes—which is atmosphere, imagination and content. To play the notes is not interesting. But what it means, the cosmic level at which they are detached from problems of playing, that is my job as a conductor.’ The results of this approach are performances that are spontaneous, imaginative and at best very moving, while at the same time being technically highly assured. Jansons himself is clear about his overall objective in performance: ‘Most important for me is that during a performance there is a temperature, because then the public will jump from their seats and after the concert will say, “It was a great experience.” If they come and hear nice tunes but are not touched and excited by the performance, this is very dangerous.’

Jansons’s early recordings appeared mainly on the Chandos label, but he signed an exclusive contract with EMI in 1986 and has since recorded an extensive repertoire with several different orchestras for this company. Highlights of his discography include the complete Tchaikovsky symphonies with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, the complete Rachmaninov symphonies with the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, and several notable readings of the Shostakovich symphonies with various orchestras. Several of his recordings have received international awards: that of Shostakovich’s Symphony No 7 with the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra won an Edison Award in 1989 and his interpretation of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra won the Dutch Luister Award.

© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Patmore (A–Z of Conductors, Naxos 8.558087–90).


Albums featuring this artist are available for download from ClassicsOnline.com
Role: Conductor 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
BAVARIAN RADIO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA 60TH ANNIVERSARY BOX SET BR-Klassik
900708
Orchestral, Vocal, Orchestral
BEETHOVEN, L. van: Piano Concerto No. 3 / STRAUSS, R.: Ein Heldenleben (Uchida, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Jansons) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) Arthaus Musik
108079
Classical Concert
BEETHOVEN, L. van: Piano Concerto No. 3 / STRAUSS, R.: Ein Heldenleben (Uchida, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Jansons) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
101683
Classical Concert
BEETHOVEN, L. van: Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (Bavarian Radio Symphony, Jansons) (3 Blu-ray Disc Set, HD) Arthaus Musik
107536
Classical Concert
BEETHOVEN, L. van: Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (Bavarian Radio Symphony, Jansons) (3 DVD Box Set) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
107537
Classical Concert
BEETHOVEN, L. van: Symphonies Nos. 1-9 / Reflections (Bavarian Radio Symphony, Jansons) BR-Klassik
900119
Orchestral, Choral - Secular, Orchestral
BEETHOVEN, L. van: Symphony No. 9 (Stoyanova, Braun, Schade, Volle, Bavarian Radio Chorus and Symphony Orchestra, Jansons) BR-Klassik
900108
Orchestral
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 9 (Concert in Honour of Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican, 2007) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
101457
Classical Concert
BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER - 125 YEARS EuroArts
2000068
Classical Concert
BERLIOZ, H.: Symphonie fantastique / VARÈSE, E.: Ionisation (Bavarian Radio Symphony, Jansons) BR-Klassik
900121
Orchestral, Chamber Music
BRAHMS, J.: Symphonies Nos. 1 and 4 (Bavarian Radio Symphony, Jansons) BR-Klassik
900112
Orchestral
BRAHMS, J.: Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3 (Bavarian Radio Symphony, Jansons) BR-Klassik
900111
Orchestral
BRAHMS, J.: Symphony No. 2 / JANACEK, L.: Glagolitic Mass (Jansons) (Blu-ray, HD) Arthaus Musik
108080
Classical Concert
BRAHMS, J.: Symphony No. 2 / JANACEK, L.: Glagolitic Mass (Jansons) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
101684
Classical Concert
BRITTEN, B.: War Requiem (Magee, Padmore, Gerhaher, Tolz Boys' Choir, Bavarian Radio Chorus and Symphony, Jansons) BR-Klassik
900120
Choral - Sacred
BRUCKNER, A.: Symphony No. 7 (Bavarian Radio Symphony, Jansons) BR-Klassik
403571900100
Orchestral
EUROPA-KONZERT 2001 - HAYDN, J. / MOZART, W.A. / BERLIOZ, H. (Pahud, Jansons) (Blu-ray, HD) EuroArts
2051444
Classical Concert
EUROPA-KONZERT 2001 - HAYDN, J. / MOZART, W.A. / BERLIOZ, H. (Pahud, Jansons) (NTSC) EuroArts
2051448
Classical Concert
EUROPA-KONZERT 2001 - HAYDN, J. / MOZART, W.A. / BERLIOZ, H. (Pahud, Jansons) (NTSC) EuroArts
2051229
Classical Concert
HANDSTEIN, J.: Richard Wagner (Feuerzauber Weltenbrand) (Argus, Baumann, Burg, Michel, Murr, Payer, Sachtlebe, Wachtveitl) BR-Klassik
900903
Orchestral
HAYDN, J.: Mass No. 14, "Harmoniemesse" / Symphony No. 88 / Sinfonia in D Major (Bavarian Radio Chorus and Symphony, Jansons) BR-Klassik
403571900102
Choral - Sacred, Orchestral
INTRODUCING MASTERPIECES - BERLIOZ, H.: Symphonie Fantastique (NTSC) EuroArts
2056158
Classical Documentary
INTRODUCING MASTERPIECES - HAYDN, J.: Symphony No. 94, "The Surprise" (NTSC) EuroArts
2056058
Classical Documentary
JANSONS, Mariss: In Rehearsal - BARTOK, B.: The Miraculous Mandarin Suite (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
100318
Classical Documentary
JANSONS, Mariss: Music is the Language of the Heart and Soul (Documentary, 2011) / MAHLER, G.: Symphony No. 2 (Concertgebouw, Jansons) (Blu-Ray, HD) C Major
709804
Classical Concert, Classical Documentary
JANSONS, Mariss: Music is the Language of the Heart and Soul (Documentary, 2011) / MAHLER, G.: Symphony No. 2 (Concertgebouw, Jansons) (NTSC) C Major
709708
Classical Concert, Classical Documentary
LUTOSLAWSKI, W.: Concerto for Orchestra / SZYMANOWSKI, K.: Symphony No. 3 / TCHAIKOVSKY, A.: Symphony No. 4 (Bavarian Radio Symphony, Jansons) BR-Klassik
900107
Concertos, Orchestral
MAHLER, G.: Symphony No. 1 / HANDSTEIN, J.: Welt und Traum - Eine Horbiografie (Bavarian Radio Symphony, Jansons) BR-Klassik
900901
Orchestral
MAHLER, G.: Symphony No. 2 (Bavarian Radio Chorus and Symphony, Jansons) (Blu-ray, HD) Arthaus Musik
108081
Classical Concert
MAHLER, G.: Symphony No. 2 (Bavarian Radio Chorus and Symphony, Jansons) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
101685
Classical Concert
MAHLER, G.: Symphony No. 7 (Bavarian Radio Symphony, Jansons) BR-Klassik
403571900101
Orchestral
MARTINU, B. / ZIMMERMANN, B.A. / STRAUSS, R.: Oboe Concertos (Schilli, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Jansons) Oehms Classics
OC737
Concertos
MEDICI ARTS CATALOGUE 2009 / Orchestral Concert - HAYDN, J. / MOZART, W.A. / BERLIOZ, H. (Pahud, Berlin Philharmonic, Jansons) (NTSC) EuroArts
2020098
Classical Concert
Orchestral Music - STRAUSS, R. / WAGNER, R. / BRAHMS, J. (Stemme, Jansons) (Salzburg Festival, 2012) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) EuroArts
2072624
Classical Concert
Orchestral Music - STRAUSS, R. / WAGNER, R. / BRAHMS, J. (Stemme, Jansons) (Salzburg Festival, 2012) (NTSC) EuroArts
2072628
Classical Concert
SCHOENBERG, A.: Gurre-Lieder (Bavarian Radio Chorus and Symphony Orchestra, Jansons) (NTSC) BR-Klassik
900110
Classical Concert
SCHUBERT, F.: Mass No. 2 / GOUNOD, C.: Messe solennelle de Sainte Cecile (Orgonasova, Elsner, Belacek, Bavarian Radio Chorus and Symphony, Jansons) BR-Klassik
900114
Choral - Sacred
SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (DNO, 2006) (NTSC) Opus Arte
OA0965D
Opera DVD
SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk (DNO, 2006) (Blu-ray, Full HD) Opus Arte
OABD7031D
Opera DVD
SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: Symphony No. 6 / TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I.: Symphony No. 6, "Pathétique" (Bavarian Radio Symphony, Jansons) BR-Klassik
900123
Orchestral
SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: Violin Concerto No. 1 / DVORAK, A.: Symphony No. 8 (Hahn, Jansons) (NTSC) EuroArts
2050448
Classical Concert
SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: Violin Concerto No. 1 / DVOŘÁK, A.: Symphony No. 8 (Hahn, Jansons) (NTSC) (with EuroArts and Ideale-Audience Catalogue 2014) EuroArts
2020248
Classical Concert
STRAUSS, R.: Rosenkavalier Suite (Der) / Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche / 4 Last Songs (Harteros, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Jansons) BR-Klassik
900707
Orchestral, Vocal, Orchestral
TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I.: Eugene Onegin (DNO, 2011) (Blu-ray, HD) Opus Arte
OABD7100D
Opera DVD
TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I.: Eugene Onegin (DNO, 2011) (NTSC) Opus Arte
OA1067D
Opera DVD
TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I.: Symphony No. 5 / Francesca da Rimini (Bavarian Radio Symphony, Jansons) BR-Klassik
900105
Orchestral
WALDBUHNE IN BERLIN 1994 - A Night of Dances and Rhapsodies (Rudy, Jansons) (PAL) Arthaus Musik
107155
Classical Concert
WALDBUHNE IN BERLIN 2002 - Open Air - A Night with the Berliner Philharmoniker (NTSC) EuroArts
2051968
Ballet DVD, Classical Concert
WALDBUHNE IN BERLIN 2002: A NIGHT OF ENCORES TDKDVD
DV-WBNOE
Classical Concert





 
 
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