"Simply spectacular... Britain's foremost young fiddler"
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 first gained international recognition when, aged 12, she became the youngest-ever winner of the BBC Young Musician of the Year and the youngest major prizewinner in the Menuhin International Violin Competition.
Performing extensively as soloist with major orchestras worldwide, highlights have included concertos with the all the BBC orchestras, London Philharmonic, Brussels Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony, Strasbourg Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Philharmonia, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Hallé, Tampere Philharmonic, Malmö Symphony, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Auckland Philharmonia, Singapore Symphony and Nagoya Philharmonic orchestras. She has also appeared as a guest director with the BBC Philharmonic and Manchester Camerata.
Eminent conductors with whom she has worked include Jirí Belohlávek, Martyn Brabbins, Sir Mark Elder, James Gaffigan, Richard Hickox, Christopher Hogwood, Juanjo Mena, Andris Nelsons, Sir Roger Norrington, Jukka Pekka Saraste, Leif Segerstam, Tugan Sokhiev and John Storgårds.
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.
She has recorded for Chandos, Sony and ABC Classics. Her recent recording of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with the City of Birmingham Symphony and Edward Gardner for Chandos was acclaimed in the Observer for her “innate musicality and mercurial technique”.
Jennifer Pike plays a 1708 violin by Matteo Goffriller.
This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.
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