Dylana Jenson’s Sibelius Recording

violinist Dylana Jenson
violinist Dylana Jenson

If you’ve never heard Dylana Jenson’s 1981 recording of the Sibelius Violin Concerto with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, take a moment and listen. This soulful and blazing performance is widely regarded to be one of the finest recordings of the Sibelius ever made. It’s a rare gem which deserves more attention.

A child prodigy and student of Josef Gingold and Nathan Milstein, Jenson was awarded the silver medal at the 1978 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow when she was seventeen years old. Shortly after recording the Sibelius, her career suffered a devastating setback when she was forced to return a 1743 Guarnerius del Gesu violin which had been given to her as a long-term loan. The wealthy collector who owned the instrument had discovered that Jenson was planning to get married and concluded that she was not sufficiently serious about her career.

Dylana Jenson now plays a modern instrument made for her by Samuel Zygmuntowicz. You can hear that violin on Jenson’s excellent 2009 recording of the Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1 and Barber Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra. A passionate teacher, Dylana Jenson lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Here is a live performance of the Sibelius Violin Concerto with Dylana Jenson and the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy:

Here are a few more links:

  • A short documentary showing Jenson’s studies with Josef Gingold at Indiana University. This clip offers a fascinating snapshot of twentieth century violin history.
  • The Saint-Saëns Third Violin Concerto around 1980
  • The Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in 1978
  • Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” Sonata
  • Sarasate’s Zapateado on the Merv Griffin Show, includes an interview with violin teacher Manual Compinsky

Jack Benny Shows Off His Strad

Following up on my post, Jack Benny and the Violinhere are two more funny violin-centered comedy clips. First, Jack Benny demonstrates the subtle differences between a Stradivarius and an average violin:

Comedy aside, Strads really don’t play themselves. It takes time to learn exactly how to make these violins sing. Many violinists comment on the endless colors and expression they discover as they play these great instruments. I’m reminded of a story about Jascha Heifetz:

[quote]After one concert, a fan entered the dressing room to compliment the artist on his performance. She told Heifetz “what a beautiful tone” his violin had had that night. He turned around, bent over and put his ear close to the violin laying in the still open case and said, “I don’t hear anything”.[/quote]

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”28″ size_format=”px”]With Dylana Jenson[/typography]

This clip features Jack Benny with a young Dylana Jenson. Jenson went on to win the Silver Medal in the Tchaikovsky Competition. Her 1981 recording of the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra is hailed as one of the finest interpretations of the piece.

Here is a great recording of a 13-year-old Jenson playing Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” Sonata. Listen to the second movement here.