Nielsen's Violin Concerto with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Thomas Søndergård

Apr. 27, 2015 | News


“Is there any better violinist in the world at the moment than James Ehnes? It didn’t need Saturday’s performance of the Nielsen Violin Concerto with the RSNO, or his immaculate solo Bach encore, to prompt that thought. He has been in Scotland aplenty, and each time he returns he blows us away with his unflinching, impeccable technique and the intellectual probity of his arresting musicianship. And this wasn’t an easy concerto to bring off, given its relative unfamiliarity and its unorthodox structuring – two significant movements that are themselves self- contained entities, combined with Nielsen’s signature questioning and elusive lyrical style. But when delivered so convincingly as this – a virtuoso performance in which every single note bore a ringing precision and clarity of purpose, and in which the long game was always firmly in sight – the exhilaration of the final outcome, the winding emotional journey towards it, was simply sensational.” (Scotsman, 27 April 2015)
“Now that…was an RSNO concert for the memory banks. Canadian violinist James Ehnes [is] a near-perfect, feet-on-the-ground musician who has not sullied a single phrase he has played in Scotland with a blemish of indulgence. James Ehnes's multi-faceted performance of the Nielsen concerto caught the essence of the piece, in its wit, its flashing drama, its high-speed and abrupt changes of temperament, its tenderness and lyricism, and its almost bloody-minded individuality which insists on the mercurial music following its own star and no established template. A splendid concert.” (Sunday Herald, 26 April 2015)
“I was pretty much bowled over by this superb performance of his Violin Concerto. …it is largesse indeed to have someone of the level of James Ehnes to play the solo line. He is surely one of the very finest violinists in the world today, playing at the top of his game, and his playing tonight showed not only that he knew the notes but that he had worked hard to understand the spirit of the piece and what lay behind the dots on the page. The virtuosity was there, of course, with a dazzling opening flourish and stunning cadenzas, with double-stopping that often had me wondering how on earth he was doing it. Even better, though, was the keynote of beauty that ran through his whole vision of the score, from the song-like main melody of the opening movement, through to the focused lightness of the Allegro cavalleresco. Best of all, though, was the melancholy beauty of the melody of the slow movement, which seemed to flow in a seamless, rhapsodic stream out of Ehnes’ violin. The perky finale was brilliantly controlled, and the final strait, after the cadenza, felt like the final act of a great story, brilliantly told. I never thought I’d say that of a Nielsen concert, but I consider myself lucky to have heard this one.” (Seen and Heard International, 25 April 2015)




 


Aaron Jay Kernis’s “Two Movements (with Bells) for Violin and Piano” at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center

Apr. 6, 2015 | News


"The most effective work was Aaron Jay Kernis’s Two Movements (with Bells) for Violin and Piano, from 2007. The piece was written for Ehnes, and together with Armstrong he gave it a moving, virtuosic reading. The bells of the title are not literal, but the piano often hints at them, calling them in from a distance to accompany the violin. Kernis’s writing is strikingly violinistic. His long, arching lines show a great level of comfort with the instrument’s lyrical voice, and his more fiery passages, while technically demanding, never seem to be awkward for the player. The result is breathtakingly expressive, working with the violin’s natural strengths rather than against them. Kernis’s earnest, straightforward tonality feels familiar, but not saccharine. The violin searches, wandering in the direction of a melody, calling to mind shades of Prokofiev in the opening strain of the second movement, 'A song for my Father.'” (New York Classical Review, 3 April 2015)
“Mr. Ehnes and Mr. Armstrong joined forces for Mr. Kernis’s work, which opens with a burst of speed and bright sound. The second movement, “A Song for My Father,” features a poignant violin melody, which Mr. Ehnes played with great tenderness. There are brief echoes of jazzy dance music before the sound grows distant and disembodied, with Mr. Ehnes producing harmonics that sounded at times like a theremin.” (New York Times, 3 April 2015)




 


James Ehnes shortlisted for RPS Award

Apr. 1, 2015 | News


Congrats to James Ehnes on being shortlisted as Instrumentalist of the year for the RPS Awards. Presented by the Royal Philharmonic Society in association with BBC Radio 3, the awards celebrate outstanding achievement by artists and organisations in classical music in 2014. Winners will be announced at a ceremony at The Brewery in London on Tuesday 5 May 2015. Visit the RPS Awards website for a look at the full shortlist




 


Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Concerts

Mar. 31, 2015 | News


"James Ehnes and Gloria Chien gave an elegant, unhurried interpretation of this delightful work [Mozart’s A-major Violin Sonata] that emphasized lyricism…Ehnes’s tone is consistently sweet, smooth, and true, and he was evenly matched by Chien’s eloquently plain-spoken phrasing and pearlescent tone.” (Classical Source, 30 March 2015)
“Mr. Ehnes and pianist Gloria Chien established themselves at once as asimpatico duo; throughout their rendering of Mozart's Sonata in A major for Violin and Piano, K. 526 (1787), they showed an acuity of dynamic sensibility that really drew me in. Regarded as Mozart's last significant violin sonata, the music calls for harmonious elegance of delivery, and the Ehnes/Chien partnership embraced it with lyrical affinity. In the central andante, their sense of the music's intimacy was particularly appealing, and Mr. Ehnes's ability to sustain long tones with a silken softness was impressive. Ms. Chien's fluidity of scale passages propelled the concluding Presto to its sparkling conclusion.” (Oberon’s Grove, 31 March 2015)




 


Bartok Disc Wins at the JUNO Awards!

Mar. 15, 2015 | News


James collected his *10th* JUNO Award on Saturday night. His CD of Bartók chamber works (Chandos) won in the category of Classical Album of the Year: Solo or Chamber Music. James was joined on this disc by amazing colleagues Amy Schwartz Moretti, Andrew Armstrong, and Michael Collins. Congratulations to all!