"Pike’s soaring Lark is a masterclass in expressive free flight. "
Tim Homfray, The Strad Magazine
"Pike delves into the substance of the music to project its distinctive traits of emotional expression. "
Geoffrey Norris, The Telegraph
Renowned for her unique artistry and compelling insight into music from the Baroque to the present day, Jennifer Pike has firmly 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.
Appearing as soloist in the world's top concert halls, she has performed with eminent conductors including Sir Andrew Davis, Jirí Belohlávek, Sir Mark Elder, Juanjo Mena, Andris Nelsons, Sir Roger Norrington, Alondra de la Parra, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Leif Segerstam, Tugan Sokhiev, Mark Wigglesworth and Vladimir Fedoseyev.
Her broad repertoire has included performances of Dvořák with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Sibelius with Tokyo Symphony, Bergen Philharmonic and Oslo Philharmonic, Mozart with Rheinische Philharmonie, Zurich Chamber Orchestra and Singapore Symphony, Brahms with the Nagoya Philharmonic, Tchaikovsky with the Tchaikovsky SO of Moscow, Hallgrímsson with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and The Lark Ascending at New York’s Carnegie Hall. She also appears regularly with all the BBC orchestras as well as the Royal Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony, London Philharmonic, Philharmonia, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. As a guest director her credits include the BBC Philharmonic, Manchester Camerata and English Chamber Orchestra.
Equally sought after as a recitalist and chamber musician, Jennifer Pike has collaborated worldwide with artists including Anne-Sophie Mutter, Nikolaj Znaider, Nicolas Altstaedt, Maxim Rysanov, Igor Levit, Martin Roscoe and Mahan Esfahani. She has curated concert series at LSO St Luke’s for BBC Radio 3 and the Wigmore Hall where she celebrated her Polish heritage with three recitals of Polish music, including several UK and world premieres. A disc of Polish works for violin followed in January 2019, released on Chandos, and was richly rewarded by the press.
Her critically-acclaimed discography on Chandos includes the Sibelius, Rózsa and Mendelssohn concertos, the Chausson Concert, Brahms and Schumann sonatas, Debussy, Ravel and Franck sonatas and the complete violin and piano works of Janáček. Her latest disc for Chandos, of Elgar and Vaughan Williams violin sonatas, was described as “an irresistible release”, received five-star reviews from major publications and won Limelight Magazine's Recording of the Year award in the Chamber category.
Jennifer Pike is an ambassador for the Prince's Trust and Foundation for Children and the Arts, and patron of the Lord Mayor's City Music Foundation. In October 2020, she was awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list for services to classical music. She plays a 1708 violin by Matteo Goffriller.
This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.
Digital recital with Petr Limonov
Polyphonic Concert Club / March 2021
Jennifer Pike is a captivating performer, whose thoughtful repertoire choices and breadth of musical interest are matched by impeccable technique. Here, reunited with Petr Limonov, her duo partner from 2019’s The Polish Violin, she was in her element in the shimmering, elusive sound-world of Szymanowski. His eerily beautiful Lullaby is less a song than the ghostly memory of one. Pike emphasised its ambiguity in the soft, velvety rasp of the low opening, supported by Limonov’s hypnotic piano, before releasing us into an otherworldly fantasy of fluttering harmonics... It’s as a collaborator that she’s really in her element, as heard here in the sunny interplay between violin and piano of Mozart’s Violin Sonata in G major. A programmed encore of Massenet’s “Meditation” from Thais was an exercise in restraint – a musical bonbon to send us home happy, but never oversugared.
Alexandra Coghlan, i Magazine
a nicely balanced programme of some of the most beautiful music written for violin... the Mozart [Violin Sonata in G] was superbly judged; Petr Limonov’s transparency, light sound and beautifully sparing use of the sustaining pedal formed the perfect partnership to Jennifer Pike’s beautifully eloquent violin...
[In Szymanowski's Violin Sonata] Pike and Limonov allow the music the perfect space to breathe. The central Andantino tranquilo e dolce is a dream, and was in this performance, the tranquil and sweet indicators fully realised. It is perhaps the most appealing movement, with its lovely alternations between pizzicato and arco (bowed) on the violin, its aching melodies for both violin and piano (some superbly even ascents here from Pike). By far the most muscular and gestural movement, the finale (an Allegro molto, quasi presto) still oozes clouds of perfume whilst maintaining a new-found level of excitement that later verges on frenzy in this sterling performance...
[In the Paganini/Szymanowski Caprice] Pike’s incisiveness is something else, that lovely sense of live performance coupled with the encountering of huge technical challenges creating a magnificent alternation between virtuosity and plateaux of calm. Pike’s highest register sings so sweetly...
The famous Méditation from Massenet’s Thaïs played absolutely to Pike’s strengths, a programmed encore of exquisite expression, the long lines delivered by Pike’s ‘endless bow’. A superb way to launch this captivating, beautifully produced series.
Colin Clarke, Seen and Heard International
Pike and Limonov began with Mozart's Violin Sonata in G major K301 [and gave a] full blooded yet elegant performance, with Pike displaying a lovely sense of line but there were some finely perky rhythms too, ending in a delightful Allegro...Pike produced some lovely singing tone in the slow movement [of Szymanowksi's Violin Sonata], and both performers collaborated throughout ending with a passionately vivid Allegro molto presto.
Elgar; The Lark Ascending
Jennifer Pike’s individual reading of the first movement [Elgar’s Violin Sonata] is of well-defined character elements: drama for the first subject … and a spellbinding tranquility for the main secondary idea… The exotic Romance is delicate and refined … Pike seems very much at home in the modal world of Vaughan Williams’s late Violin Sonata in A minor (1954), and she and Martin Roscoe negotiate the imaginative Fantasia structure of the first movement with verve and vigour. The intonation of the multiple-stopping is well-nigh flawless and the execution of the long melodic passages is carefully balanced and nuanced.
Jeremy Dibble, Gramophone Magazine *****
This is a very interesting look at Vaughan Williams in a guise we haven't heard him before
BBC Radio 3 In Tune
Pike and Roscoe's detailed characterisations of [Vaughan Williams's sonata]'s themes ensures it coheres into a substantial and very personal drama...Pike, launching into this work with sturdy tone, shows a remarkable range of colour, whether in her impassioned yet true-sounding double stopping, or using grit and cutting tone one moment before switching to a beguiling, tender lyricism.
Daniel Jaffé, BBC Music Magazine, performance ***** recording ****
This latest recording is very fine and enlightening on its own terms
Jonathan Woolf, Music Web International *****
Rare and well-known repertoire with a twist combine in an irresistible release...Pike and Roscoe perform [Elgar's Violin Sonata] with vigour and entrancing sensitivity. They launch into the first movement with red-blooded energy, following which Pike’s tender, small voice is the more affecting. In the central Romance she moves from light caprice to deep reverie; the grand rhetoric and limpid subtleties of the finale complete a tremendous performance. Pike and Roscoe give a persuasive demonstration of why Vaughan Williams’s A minor Sonata, a stark and beautiful work, deserves more attention...The Lark Ascending which follows, given a gentle, rippling performance.
Tim Homfray, The Strad
[In Vaughan Williams’ Violin Sonata] both musicians throw themselves into the second movement’s Allegro Furioso with beautifully controlled abandon... Pike’s lark soars with confident ardour. A benchmark recording of the two sonatas is that from 1978 by Yehudi and Hephzibah Menuhin. Yehudi had a strong affinity for this music and is highly expressive, but his intonation is neither as secure nor his tone as pure as Pike’s, while Roscoe is the more imaginative pianist. This new recording is a must if you don’t know these great pieces.
Phillip Scott, Limelight Magazine *****
The strong forward motion of Pike's playing is ideal in bringing out Vaughan Williams' line of thought...It's a fresh recital of British chamber music, beautifully recorded by Chandos at Potton Hall, and it demands attention for this rising violinist
James Manheim, All Music
Elgar Violin Concerto
Staatsorchester Rheinische Philharmonie (February 2020)
The soloist in Elgar’s work is entrusted to the British violinist Jennifer Pike. The woman in the flaming red dress is as virtuoso as she is sensitive to the considerable challenges of this “greatest violin concerto since Beethoven”, as the violinist Fritz Kreisler once said.
The interaction with Jennifer Pike works perfectly – the orchestra is both a dialogue partner and a subtle atmospheric painter. It forms sound spaces for the soloist, into which she can “sing” softly, tenderly, lyrically or in which she unfolds energetic self-confidence with insanely fast runs and double-stopping
Andreas Pecht, Rheinische Zeitung
Radio 3 lunchtime concert with Martin Roscoe
Wigmore Hall, Jan 2020
Pike and pianist Martin Roscoe had the full measure of Elgar’s restless mood-swings, and shaped both the dramatic contrasts of character and the more subtle fluctuations of tempo and phrasing with assurance. The incessant tug and pull of tension, climax and release were handled masterfully. A fine balance between the two instruments was sustained... Each variation [of Rozsa's Variations on a Hungarian Peasant Song] was played with incredible care and nuance in order to capture its individual spirit: nostalgic or forthright, delicate or pugnacious. The unaccompanied violin statement of the theme was beautifully soulful, and then richly harmonised by Roscoe. It takes enormous skill and discipline not just to play Rózsa’s intricacies and fancies with such precision but also to make the music sound so spontaneous and free. Pike and Roscoe danced their way through the spiky pizzicato jauntiness, luxuriated in the melodising and breezed through the rhythmic fun. In the demanding double-stops Pike’s tone was unfailingly warm and she raced through the precipitous passages crisply.
Claire Seymour, Seen and Heard International
Like to the Lark
The centrepiece of the recording is the arrangement by Paul Drayton of Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending for violin and chamber choir... Jennifer Pike's gives a perceptive reading of the solo violin part in what is a surprisingly convincing and warm representation of the work.
Jeremy Dibble, Gramophone
The stand-out track in this anthology is Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending, performed in an ingenious arrangement by Paul Drayton for violin and chamber choir…the lark’s ‘accompaniment’ becomes much more otherworldly, while the solo violin part – given a particularly rhapsodic spin by Pike – shines with a brighter aura
Geoff Brown, BBC Music Magazine, performance **** recording ****
*Disc of the week* 16th November
Andrew McGregor, BBC Radio 3
Fascinating and convincing choral approach to a violin concerto favourite.
The otherworldly effect created by integrating the violin (the most naturally ‘vocal’ of all instruments) with the magical, floated sonorities produced by the Swedish Chamber Choir under the highly gifted Simon Phipps is nothing short of entrancing. Indeed, hearing VW’s stunning invention hoisted gently and seamlessly aloft as if on warm summer breezes feels like a realisation of sounds and sensations at which the orchestral version seems poignantly to hint.
All of this could have been for nothing, were it not for the ravishing sounds produced by Pike at the peak of her powers, playing a glorious Guarneri ‘del Gesù’ loaned to her by Beare’s International Violin Society.
As she alternately weaves in and out of and flutters above the choral textures, it feels as though one were somehow miraculously listening to a lark in flight. No less unforgettable is her delectably golden-toned contribution to Ola Gjeilo’s luminous Serenity of 2010.
Julian Haylock, The Strad - *The Strad Recommends* January 2020
This performance makes one sit up and listen to the piece with renewed interest; the experience is helped by the quality of the singing and violin playing and the very effective transcription...The last work on the CD is Ola Gjeilo’s Serenity, his 2010 setting of the ancient text O magnum mysterium, for mixed chorus with violin. Like the RVW piece, the combination works beautifully, with the solo violin soaring above the intense choral sounds.
Jim Westhead, MusicWeb-International.com
The Lark Ascending
Britten-Shostakovich Festival Orchestra (September 2019)
It was Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending with Jennifer Pike as the eloquent soloist that left the most favourable impression – orchestra and violinist perfectly balanced in a magical rendering that combined impeccable technique with poetic sensitivity.
David Truslove, Classical Source
Soloist Jennifer Pike was magical in the Vaughan Williams, creating a sense of wonder, her playing as light as air, her trills beautifully controlled – and as she soared upwards into the infinite at the end her tone was so pure and ethereal that you could sense the audience holding their breath.
William Ruff, Reviews Gate
We were then treated to Ralph Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending and privileged to hear Jennifer Pike handle the violin solo…a rounded, secure rendition that let the glorious music speak for itself, the sign of real artistry.
Charles Stokes, Edinburgh 49
The English violinist Jennifer Pike is a regular visitor to Scotland and has already developed a striking career on the world stage. Her articulation and mastery intoning the graceful harmonies of Vaughan Williams’s delightful arrangements of folk tunes in The Lark Ascending was profoundly impressive and was well accompanied by the British conductor.
Gregor Tassie, Seen and Heard International
Recital with Mahan Esfahani
Hong Kong City Hall, May 2019
Pike…played with fine lyricism and poise in the Adagio espressivo, while she and Esfahani enjoyed the witty and jovial outer Allegro leggiero and Allegro vivo movements.
Cascades by British composer Jeremy Pike, which draws inspiration from a walk along a stream, was written for Pike – his daughter – and Esfahani. The pair set the scene vividly, their playing bouncing off the other’s to great effect, Pike bathing in warm melodies and impressing with clean harmonics and seemingly at one with Esfahani’s harpsichord.
The dreamy Siciliano opening of Bach’s C minor sonata made for a lovely encore
Christopher Halls, South China Morning Post
The Polish Violin
CHAN 20082 (January 2019)
Jennifer Pike’s exceptional sensitivity to tonal inflection and temporal flexibility works wonders in Symanowski’sMythes … No less bewitching is the Op. 28 Nocturne and Tarantella, in which Pike intoxicates the senses … Pike proves no less winning in Moszkowski;s enchanting Guitarre and smoulders seductively in Wieniawski’s Op. 17 Légende. In his famous Op. 4 Polonaise she relishes the music’s dancing contours in a way that more headlong accounts tend to skate over. Petr Limonov partners her devotedly with great skill and sensitivity, captured in exemplary sound.
BBC Music Magazine, Julian Haylock - Chamber Choice *****
…what a climax! Jennifer Pike approaches the Mythes with a tone of glistening, succulent sweetness, coupled to a generous vibrato, swooping, sensuous phrasing and intense, often dazzling radiance. Her intonation even in harmonics and double-stops, is superbly assured. Then it’s on to the Nocturne and Tarantella: by turns smouldering and positively incendiary. With virtuoso playing of ferocious bravura, it almost felt like a fourth Mythe…a simply ravishing disc, thrillingly played
Richard Bratby, Gramophone Magazine
Brilliant and personal exploration of a violinist’s cultural heritage…Jennifer Pike has a bloodline to this repertoire via her Polish mother but hasn’t simply rested on genealogy, absorbing Polish culture and travelling to the Tatra mountains for this disc. Her affinity with Polish expressionistic melancholy is evidenced by deep, personal playing at low registers and a striking harbouring of the sort of ecstatic rapture Szymanowski brings to the high ones. Pike’s engagement with his scented world is made more of rapt rather than neurotic intensity, with touches of fragility, idiosyncratic little glissandos and some exceptional instances of focus. There is every challenge in the book…but in none of those technical challenges does Pike sound anything other than lost in the music.
Andrew Mellor, The Strad
Pike performs with beautiful colours and stylish elegance [and she] discovers something magical [in this recording]...Szymanowski's compositions in Pike's interpretation are full of colours and have something very attractive in them.
Mozart Violin Concerto No. 5
Rheinische Philharmonie (March 2018)
Pike’s playing is characterised by a natural virtuosity that doesn’t lack on impact.
Julia Heinrich, Rhein-Zeitung
Polish Music Day: Jennifer Pike and Friends
Wigmore Hall (October 2017)
Most music-lovers would be hard-pressed to name more than a handful of Polish composers, so one of the joys of Polish Music Day, presented by Jennifer Pike and Friends at Wigmore Hall, was the sheer scope of the programme. Around 20 composers were featured, and had stamina permitted we could have heard the same number again without ideas running dry. Still, the range was wide, stretching back nearly 600 years to the keyboard anthology assembled by Jan of Lublin and up to a world premiere by Paulina Załubska – both in the morning concert, where works ancient and modern were anchored by the versatile harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani.
Yet the violin dominated – rightly so, and not only because Pike, herself half-Polish, was in charge. With the exception of Chopin and his single-minded focus on the piano, Polish composers since the time of Karol Lipiński, Poland’s answer to Paganini, have contributed richly to the violin repertoire, and it was rewarding to hear Pike in Szymanowski’s Sonata for Violin and Piano and Karłowicz’s Impromptu, both impassioned early works that showed off her warm, quicksilver tone. With its dizzying harmonics, Wieniawski’s famous Polonaise No. 1 in D is often relegated to encore status, yet here Pike gave the music its full due in a bold, bravura performance. Her two excellent pianists, Petr Limonov and Tom Poster, got the afternoon’s encore: exhilarating four-handed Paderewski from his Tatra Album.
The evening concert was equally wide in its scope and imagination, opening with Maria Szymanowska – no relation of the great 20th-century composer, but a musician idolised by many including Goethe and also the mother-in-law of the Poland’s arch-poet Adam Mickiewicz. Tom Poster’s account of her Polonaise in F minor caught all its noble melancholy. Eugeniusz Knapik’s challenging Partita for violin and piano, composed in 1980 against the backdrop of Solidarity flexing its muscles in Gdańsk, proved a major work, using Baroque form to package fascinating sonorities.
Chopin featured in his often overlooked chamber music guise, and Pike and Poster were joined by the cellist Guy Johnston to play his early Piano Trio in G minor with sweeping high spirits. Chopin’s affinity with Bellini comes through in the slow movement, and the finale has all the excitement of his works for piano and orchestra. Here the encore (appropriately, in a trio arrangement by the violinist’s father Jeremy Pike, a one-time student of Gorecki) was Michał Ogiński’s celebrated Farewell to the Homeland Polonaise.
John Allison, The Telegraph ****
The Lark Ascending
Chamber Orchestra of New York (Naxos)
With so many recordings of The Lark Ascending available, a new one has to offer something special to soar clear of the crowd. Jennifer Pike’s playing – at once forthright and beautifully yearning, with technique to match – puts her contribution into that category.
Malcolm Hayes, BBC Music Magazine ****
Pike’s soaring Lark is a masterclass in expressive free flight. Jennifer Pike opens The Lark Ascending with delicacy and grace, her vibrato contained and expressive. As she moves into the first melody, that vibrato occasionally stops altogether, leaving pure, expressive notes within the exquisite soundscape. This whole first section is a masterclass in how to structure an extended musical paragraph. The young players of the Chamber Orchestra of New York then come into their own with some fine solo playing, particularly from the flute, as Pike pirouettes lissomly around them (the recording is clear and well balanced). Her playing is clean and fluent, each note perfectly focused and placed. Her double-stopped allargando phrases weaving down in 5ths (mostly) are magical. She has the gift of making time stand still, even as the music flows forwards. The final cadenza is sublime, as the Lark ascends to top B and disappears.
Tim Homfray, The Strad Magazine (The Strad Recommends)
Dvořák Violin Concerto
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic (January 2017)
Jennifer Pike shaped the lyrical sections with vocal quality and grace… There was a lively beauty to the fiery finale. She showed clarity and poise throughout technical passages and was very well received by her audience.
Lars Hedblad, Svenska Dagbladet
Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto – BBC Concert Orchestra
William Alwyn Festival, Aldeburgh (October 2016)
The concert also included a wonderfully fluent performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto by Jennifer Pike. Still only 26, the British violinist has turned from child prodigy to superbly graceful virtuoso without airs or affectation.
Richard Morrison, The Times ****
Jennifer Pike interview by James Naughtie
BBC Music Magazine (September 2016)
Read the full interview here.
Sibelius Violin Concerto
Bergen Philharmonic (March 2014)
One of the finest ever actual recordings, the richness and clarity of SACD sound revealing a wealth of detail and scale from the superb Bergen orchestra, and giving Jennifer Pike's violin a tremendous sense of presence. And she plays it with impressive mastery.
Michael Scott Rohan, BBC Music Magazine *****
This is an exceptionally fine reading of a testing concerto from a young British prodigy who has been unfussily maturing into a compelling violinist. She catches the sinuous ethereality of Sibelius's vision, and the loneliness as well, but there's plenty of passion where it matters and tremendous technical skill. The Bergen Philharmonic and Andrew Davis also offer a kind of Your Hundred Best Sibelius Tunes, including Karelia and Finlandia.
Richard Morrison, The Times
Of special note here is a gripping interpretation of the Violin Concerto by Jennifer Pike. The concerto's technical hurdles are surmounted consummately, but, even more important, Pike delves into the substance of the music to project its distinctive traits of emotional expression. The chill rhapsodising start gives way to shifts of darkness and light... Intensity, strength and malleability of tone, breadth of line and firmly focused bravura coalesce in the central Adagio and in the fearsome virtuosity of the finale, always underpinned by secure, stylistically aware musicianship.
Geoffrey Norris, The Telegraph ****
Miklós Rózsa Violin Concerto
BBC Philharmonic (December 2012)
Jennifer Pike immediately evokes memories of Heifetz with her silver purity of sound and quicksilver agility, inflected by a narrow, medium-fast vibrato. What sets her apart, however, is the gentle cushioning of her lifted strokes, her enhanced dynamic range and radiantly seductive playing during the more lyrical episodes. Where Heifetz verges on the relentless in his virtuoso intensity and brilliance, Pike gives us more light and shade, especially welcome in the finale's playful dance rhythms, making this her finest recording yet.
Julian Haylock, BBC Music Magazine *****
Any collector looking for a thoroughly persuasive modern version of this lovely concerto need to look no further… Pike's way with this music is exceptionally satisfying.
International Record Review
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (January 2016)
Jennifer Pike allies the luminous beauty of her tone to her innate musicality and mercurial technique to produce an exceptionally lyrical interpretation of the evergreen Violin Concerto in E minor.
Stephen Pritchard, The Observer
Edward Gardner and Jennifer Pike have given it a re-think and complete re-fit... I felt I was hearing it for the first time. Pike’s playing sings the concerto: it is breathtakingly beautiful, and the sophistication of orchestral thinking and playing is out of this world.
Michael Tumelty, Sunday Herald
With her sweet, singing tone and graceful phrasing, (Jennifer Pike) walks in the footsteps of many illustrious predecessors.
Roger Nichols, BBC Music Magazine
Jennifer Pike's interpretation is dramatic, passionate and always nuanced....This performance is certain to become one of the great standard recordings.
John France, Music Web International