Jennifer Pike releases The Polish Violin, an album exploring her Polish heritage through the music of Karłowicz, Szymanowski, Wieniawski and Moszkowski

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“This recording is the culmination of a very special and personal journey for me exploring famous and lesser-known gems of Polish violin music. It has been wonderful to record music that I grew up with especially at a time when Poland is celebrating 100 years of independence.”

Acclaimed violinist Jennifer Pike explores her Polish heritage in her latest album on Chandos to be released on 4 January. The album, featuring Pike alongside pianist Petr Limonov, presents music by Polish composers Mieczyslaw Karłowicz, Karol Szymanowski, Henryk Wieniawski and Moritz Moszkowski.

Jennifer’s aim with the album is to build bridges through music following the political upheaval in June 2014, which she has brought into her recent concert programmes too including her Polish Music Day at Wigmore Hall in 2017. With frequent visits to Poland to see family from a very young age, Jennifer was brought up listening to this music and is passionate about sharing it with a wider audience. This has initiated her strong views about the way culture unites people in a common emotional experience that surmounts linguistic or national boundaries, a sentiment particularly prevalent amid the UK’s current political climate.

Jennifer explains
“This recording is the culmination of a very special and personal journey for me exploring famous and lesser-known gems of Polish violin music. It has been wonderful to record music that I grew up with especially at a time when Poland is celebrating 100 years of independence.”

After Britain’s connections with Europe were invariably changed after the referendum, Jennifer was keen to delve deeper into her Polish heritage. Pike’s mother was born in Poland and became separated from her British husband for six months due to the imposition of martial law in the early 1980’s. Communication between them was only possible through letters carried in diplomatic pouches and when a MP took up their case it made the front pages of the UK national press. Eventually she was able to leave Poland on the first flight out of the country once flights were resumed with the West.

Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937) is widely considered as one of the greatest Polish composers. Making up half the disc, Pike explores his challenging repertoire for violin and piano including Mythes and Chant de Roxane, taken from his famous opera King Roger. The Mythes are especially prominent on the album as one of the most revolutionary pieces, considered very much ahead of its time. Pike pairs these works with Guitarre by Moritz Moszkowski (1854-1925), a lesser-known composer of the era, but one that very much sits comfortably within the distinctive Polish soundscape of the album. Mieczyslaw Karłowicz (1876-1909) was another eminent composer of his time, but died at the young age of 32 in an avalanche whilst skiing in the Tatra mountains, an area in which Jennifer spent time as a child. Henryk Wieniawski (1835-1880) wrote Legende following his engagement to Isabella Hampton in an attempt win over her parents, who disapproved of the engagement. Upon hearing the piece, Isabella’s parents gave their blessing, and it has since become one of his most frequently performed works.

About Jennifer Pike

Renowned for her unique artistry and compelling insight into music from the Baroque to the present day, Jennifer Pike has established herself as one of today’s most exciting instrumentalists.

She made her concerto debut with the Hallé Orchestra aged 11, and her international career was launched the following year when she won the BBC Young Musician and became the youngest major prize winner in the Menuhin International Violin Competition. Aged 15 she made acclaimed debuts at the BBC Proms and Wigmore Hall, and her many subsequent Proms appearances include being a ‘featured artist’ in 2009. She was invited to become a BBC New Generation Artist (2008-10), won the inaugural International London Music Masters Award and became the only classical artist ever to win the South Bank Show/Times Breakthrough Award.

Performing extensively as soloist with major orchestras worldwide, highlights include concertos with the all the BBC orchestras, London Philharmonic, Brussels Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony, Dresden Philharmonic, Rheinische Philharmonie, Strasbourg Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Philharmonia, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Hallé, Tampere Philharmonic, Malmö Symphony, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Prague Symphony, Auckland Philharmonia, Singapore Symphony, Tokyo Symphony and Nagoya Philharmonic orchestras. She has appeared as a guest director with the BBC Philharmonic and Manchester Camerata. She made her Carnegie Hall debut playing Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending with the Chamber Orchestra of New York (also recorded for Naxos).

Eminent conductors with whom she has worked include Jirí Belohlávek, Martyn Brabbins, Sir Mark Elder, James Gaffigan, Richard Hickox, Christopher Hogwood, Andris Nelsons, Sir Roger Norrington, Michael Sanderling, Jukka Pekka Saraste, Leif Segerstam, Tugan Sokhiev, John Storgårds and Mark Wigglesworth.

As a recitalist and chamber musician, Jennifer Pike has collaborated throughout Europe with artists including Anne-Sophie Mutter, Nikolaj Znaider, Adrian Brendel, Nicolas Altstaedt, Maxim Rysanov, Ben Johnson, Igor Levit, Martin Roscoe, Tom Poster and Mahan Esfahani. In 2016 her series of recitals at LSO St Luke’s were broadcast on BBC Radio 3. She appears regularly at the Wigmore Hall and in 2017 curated and performed three recitals in one-day celebrating Polish music, including specially commissioned work.

An enthusiastic promoter of new music, she has had many works written for her, including Haflidi Hallgrimsson’s Violin Concerto, which she premièred with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Charlotte Bray’s Scenes from Wonderland with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall and Andrew Schultz’s Violin Concerto and Sonatina for solo violin.

Her prolific and widely-acclaimed discography on Chandos, Sony and ABC Classics includes the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the Bergen Philharmonic and Sir Andrew Davis, Miklós Rózsa Violin Concerto with the BBC Philharmonic and Rumon Gamba, Bach with Sinfonietta Cracovia and Schultz with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. She recently recorded the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with the City of Birmingham Symphony and Edward Gardner for Chandos, which was acclaimed in the Observer for her “innate musicality and mercurial technique” and as “breathtakingly beautiful” by the Sunday Herald.

Future plans include concerts with the City of Birmingham Symphony, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Czech National Symphony and return invitations from the Royal Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic, English Chamber and Rheinische Philharmonie.

She was recently invited to become an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust and Foundation for Children and the Arts, together with being patron of the Lord Mayor’s City Music Foundation.

Jennifer Pike plays a 1708 violin by Matteo Goffriller.

Jennifer Pike

The Polish Violin

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