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Janine Jansen is a Dutch violinist who got an awful lot of attention in 2005 with her recording of Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons." It became one of the best-selling albums on iTunes. Since that time, her career has only grown.

Janine Jansen recently visited New York, and Jeff Lunden has this profile.

JEFF LUNDEN: Janine Jansen is tall and fine-boned, with piercing blue eyes and a girl-next-door kind of openness. But when she picks up her 1727 Stradivarius, she takes no prisoners.

(Soundbite of music composed by Richard Dubugnon)

Ms. JANINE JANSEN (Violinist): (Instrumental)

Mr. RICHARD DUBUGNON (Composer): Like everybody who hears her or sees her play, I mean, you fall in love.

LUNDEN: Swiss composer Richard Dubugnon has written several pieces for Jansen, including this violin concerto.

(Soundbite of music composed by Richard Dubugnon)

Mr. DUBUGNON: She has a great honesty and on top of her beauty, naturally, and you feel it. Shes completely dedicated to her instrument and to music. She serves music like, 200 percent. There is no fuss, there is no ego. Its just complete dedication and gift.

(Soundbite of music)

LUNDEN: Jansen grew up in a musical family in Holland, and picked up the violin when she was 6. She says she played chamber music with her parents and older brothers all the time.

Ms. JANSEN: Its so important, I think, that you do that from a young age and you learn to communicate through music; listen to each other, react to each other, just be, you know, aware of everything.

(Soundbite of Vivaldis The Four Seasons)

LUNDEN: By the time Jansen was 15, she played solo on the stage of the famous Concertgebouw, in Amsterdam. In her early 20s, she embarked on an international career and was signed by Decca Records. But her big break came when she recorded Vivaldis The Four Seasons, and it became a sensation on iTunes.

Ms. JANSEN: It was, for me, also very, very strange because I didnt even know so much about iTunes. I had never downloaded the thing in my life, you know?

(Soundbite of laughter)

LUNDEN: The album sold more downloads than physical CDs, and brought her an audience that extended beyond classical music fans.

Ms. JANSEN: From the comments, you could kind of get that they had never heard, for instance, a harpsichord in their life before. And this is, in a way, really great; that they react so positive to something new to them.

LUNDEN: But classical critics, like the Philadelphia Inquirers David Patrick Stearns, took notice, too.

Mr. DAVID PATRICK STEARNS (Classical Music Critic, Philadelphia Inquirer): I love her technique, I love the fact that theres none of that, you know, syrupy faking or anything like that. But more than that, I love the fact that she is not only willing to sort of show us who she is, but shes able to - because the technique is so precise.

(Soundbite of music)

LUNDEN: Jansen has recorded many of the standard violin concertos -Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn, Beethoven - but shes also recorded lesser-known repertoire, like Benjamin Brittens violin concerto, which premiered in 1940. She first played it over 10 years ago, with the City of Birmingham Orchestra in England.

(Soundbite of Britten Concerto)

Ms. JANSEN: They came up to me afterwards saying, my God. Thank you for bringing this piece to us again; we havent played it for 25 years. And then you think, my God, Benjamin Britten - its like, the British composer, and they havent played it. Me, as a Dutch person, is coming to bring it to them again.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. JANSEN: So then I really started to fight for this piece because I loved it so much. So I drove people nuts, wherever I would be asked to come and play: Britten, Britten, Britten.

(Soundbite of Britten's Violin Concerto in D)

LUNDEN: Jansen played Brittens violin concerto with the New York Philharmonic just last week. Paavo J�rvi conducted, and he says even when she plays with an orchestra, Jansen approaches the music like a chamber musician.

Mr. PAAVO JARVI (Conductor): It is such a wonderful quality. And its a rare quality because very often, soloists sort of stand there and do their thing, and everybody else have to, basically, accompany. With her, its always a give and take, and its always flexibility. Its never business as usual.

(Soundbite of music)

LUNDEN: Jansen plays about 140 concerts a year, and makes sure theres plenty of room for more intimate music-making. Shes artistic director of an annual chamber music festival in her hometown of Utrecht. And Jansens new album, Beau Soir, is her first recital disc.

Ms. JANSEN: I wanted to have the French repertoire because I love, especially, the sonatas by Debussy, Ravel. The Messiaen Theme et Variations is one of my most favorite pieces since I was young.

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of song, Theme et Variations)

LUNDEN: The French repertoire allows her to show off all the colors in her Stradivarius - which for a while, was owned by the French ambassador to Italy.

Ms. JANSEN: I am incredibly happy with it. Ive been playing it for 11 years. Its on loan by a Dutch foundation, and I can play it as long as I play, as long as I live, as long as I...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. JANSEN: concerts.

LUNDEN: Which, one assumes, will be for a very long time.

For NPR News, Im Jeff Lunden in New York.

SIMON: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

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