Feb. 23, 2015 | Reviews
“In Prokofiev’s concerto, however, the clear, elegant playing of violinist Ehnes seemed to put the orchestra on its mettle, as the soloist duetted prettily with individual players in the first movement and meshed as the principal voice in the organ-like orchestral sonorities of the finale. Denève deftly partnered him in weaving the work’s rapt atmosphere. The presence of Ehnes’s violin tone in the large hall seemed as intimate as chamber music, as he effortlessly projected the finest details of Prokofiev’s fantasy-like score. In the piece’s central scherzo, the violinist dazzled with scorching scales, left-hand pizzicato, slashing martellato, and fast, whistling harmonics, all without losing his impeccable cool. Ehnes received, and deserved, the biggest ovation of the night. He obliged with an encore, a tastefully swoony rendition of the Largo from Bach’s Sonata for Solo Violin in C major, BWV 1005.” (Boston Classical Review, 20 February 2015)
“[Ehnes] was as elegant as ever. Ehnes was sheer perfection.” (Musical Intelligencer, 21 February 2015)
Jan. 27, 2015 | Reviews
The 2015 JUNO Award nominations were announced today at a press conference in Toronto and James is once again up for two awards: the final volume of his Bartok project with Chandos, Contrasts, Sonatina and 44 Duos with Michael Collins (clarinet), Amy Schwartz Moretti (violin), and Andrew Armstrong (piano) is nominated in the category of Classical Album of the Year: Solo or Chamber Ensemble and his recording of concertos by Khachaturian and Shostakovich (Onyx Classics) is nominated in the category of Classical Album of the Year: Large Ensemble or Soloist(s) with Large Ensemble Accompaniment. The awards will be handed out at ceremonies on March 14 & 15. Check back for updates!
Jan. 13, 2015 | Reviews
Canadian violinist James Ehnes...gave a terrific performance of Mendelssohn’s concerto Saturday night at the Arsht Center in Miami with the New World Symphony led by guest conductor James Conlon. Of Ehnes’ virtuosity, there was no question, and he played without a trace of effort to disturb the smooth surface. But beyond that he brought an early Romantic sensibility to the performance, playing in an expressive but compact manner that brought out the concerto’s youthful vulnerability and high spirits. With a slender but singing tone, he phrased the plaintive opening melody with intensity and a touch of fragility, inflecting it in a manner that expressed its emotion without larding it with vibrato. The violinist was assertive and vigorous but never rough in the rapid-fire passagework and brought a keen sense of drama to the cadenza, suddenly dropping the volume and raising the speed as he began a series of trills that led up to a climactic passage of chords and arpeggios. In this dark minor-key melody [of the Andante], which climaxes with an ascent in octaves, Ehnes brought to the music a raw emotional intensity rarely heard in Mendelssohn but absolutely convincing in this passage. The last movement was a whirl of light, effortless virtuosity. Rarely will an encore eclipse the main event, but Ehnes’ performance of the Allegro assai from Bach’s Sonata No. 3 for solo violin came close. Although the work never calls for playing on more than a single string at once, Ehnes played it with brilliance, speed and dexterity. Most impressive was his overarching sense of structure, bringing out the polyphonic grandeur of Bach’s music, and showing why the composer’s solo violin works can still amaze after nearly 300 years." (Miami Herald, 12 January 2015)
Dec. 16, 2014 | Reviews
“The second piece was dedicated to Ehnes, who stepped on stage to take on Bruch’s ¬Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, op26. The 1866 concerto is renowned for its advanced technicality, with three movements exhibiting disparate moods and pace. The first section had Ehnes slowly making his impression felt. He quietly emerged from behind the flutes with a brisk cadenza, repeating the theme with increasing muscularity. The second movement was rich in melody as the violin introduced new ideas over an orchestra constantly on the move.
Ehnes took on a more rhythmic sound on the final section with the violin almost galloping over the orchestra to conclude with a energetic flourish.” (The National, 16 December 2014)
Dec. 12, 2014 | Reviews
"The virtuosity and versatility of the Canadian-born violinist James Ehnes is sometimes taken for granted, such is the apparent ease and nonchalance with which he plays. Inviting comparison to the great virtuosos of the past, this afternoon matinee, in which he played the Walton Violin Concerto – written for Jascha Heifetz – with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, was only the first of his two performances that day. In the evening, Ehnes played the Brahms Concerto, dedicated to Joseph Joachim, with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, replacing their stricken soloist. When, on the Symphony Hall stage, conductor Andrew Litton announced that the concert would be broadcast live on Radio 3, Ehnes just raised his eyebrows in surprise and then smiled. Ehnes’s fearless response to both works spoke for itself. The fine balance of Walton’s reflective lyricism and its capricious displays of technique were handled with flair, and the tone that Ehnes produced high on the E string lent a sweetness to the music too often lost in more effortful performances. Litton’s instinct for the jazzy element in Walton’s score added to the scintillating effect." (Guardian, 12 December 2014)
“Ehnes delivered a wonderfully poignant, soul-searching account of the Walton, his rich, full tones seamlessly singing with resigned regret and Litton and the CBSO reciprocated with arching phrasing and piquant interjections.” (Birmingham Post, 10 December 2014)
“Ehnes gave a slender, poignant rendition of Walton's Violin Concerto...his rapid, yet very clean, double-stops and jumps morphed seamlessly into sweet, lyrical lines, whose clear and round sound in the lower and middle register was topped with filigree high notes.” (Bachtrack, 12 December 2014)