Aug. 4, 11, 30 | Profiles
"A master of amazing music"
(New Zealand Herald, 30 August 2008)
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""...dazzling showmanship through many near-impossible cadenzas.""
(Courier Mail, 11 August 2008)
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""...This night belonged to guest soloist James Ehnes...""
(The Age, 4 August 2008)
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Aug. 5, 2008 | Review
"His reading of the Tchaikovsky... was on par with the greats. Despite performing in a venue with challenging acoustics, he consistently produced a full-bodied, rich tone only partially explained by the remarkable instrument on which he plays (a 1715 Stradivarius). His flawless technique was entirely servile to a sophisticated musicality.
There was nothing mannered about his playing, no labouring over the work's excruciatingly virtuosic passages. Ornamentation, phrasing and dynamics were sensitive and never contrived.
His confident, assured air -- beautifully demonstrated in a spacious, musically intelligent treatment of the first movement cadenza -- was devoid of arrogance. His treatment of the emotionally charged second movement particularly impressed for its restrained melancholy rather than schmaltzy self-indulgence. Above all, Ehnes brought subtlety, clarity and expressive detail to this performance with such effortless elegance that even the reserved Melbourne audience demanded five curtain calls.
A rhythmically charged, delicately shaped reading of the Preludio from Bach's Partita No3 sealed the evening. Melbourne made it clear it wants this performer to return soon."
(The Australian, 5 August 2008)
Jul. 31, 2008 | Review
"Ehnes' rendering of the host is graceful and wonderfully skilled. The interchange which he stimulates with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is vibrant and engaging."
(The Australian Stage, 31 July 2008)
"He is a Performer of unflappable security, gifted with as resonant and true a double-stopping technique as I've heard and dispatching the piece's quirky virtuosity with good humour and elegant control. Still, Ehnes has more to him than technique, shown in a searing account of the slow Agathon movement where the composer's melodic gift shines out with startling sincerity."
(The Age, 29 July 2008)
Jun. 20, 2008 | News
James Ehnes will be talking with Brian Wise on WNYC's Soundcheck on Thursday, June 26 from 2 to 3pm.
May 01, 2008 | News
James Ehnes now has a Facebook page.
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Apr. 06, 2008 | News
James Ehnes has won the 2008 JUNO Award for Classical Album of the Year: Large Ensemble or Soloist with Large Ensemble.
This brings the total awards for this album to three, having already won a GRAMMY Award and a Western Canadian Music Award earlier this year.
James was at the JUNOs where he accepted the award and also appeared as a presenter on the live telecast.
Mar. 17, 2008 | News
James Ehnes has been nominated for a Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) Music Award, one of the UK's most prestigious classical music honours. James is up for the Instrumentalist Award in recognition of his performances throughout the UK in 2007.
The RPS Music Award winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on Thursday 15 May at the Dorchester Hotel, London. A special programme devoted to the RPS Music Awards will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 at 7.00pm on Friday 16 May.
Mar. 05, 2008 | Review
"Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto as played by Grammy-winning James Ehnes was full of kinetic energy in the outer movements and warm feeling in the Canzonetta. The tone was big and the technique unerring. This Canadian is at the top of his game."
(Montreal Gazette, 5 March 2008)
"The best moment of the evening was the Concerto for Violin by Tchaikovsky, played by James Ehnes. Spectacular phraising, where the text permitted, a certain penchant for the risky, in essence a real personality interjected a new life into a too-often heard concerto. Let's be grateful for what the young Ehnes gave us: an irreproachable technique, an always balanced sonority..."
(La Presse, 5 March 2008)
"It has been a long time since this violinist has been shown in such a light : brilliant, risk-taking, with visceral, almost bestial playing... After a very "proper" beginning, the violinist and the conductor progressively freed themselves and, for the finishing thrust, it was Kent Nagano who gave the signal with a very sharp accelerando before the cadence of the first movement. The Canzonetta, never slow or saccharine, was the prelude to an exaltant, very vivacissimo Finale. Ehnes certainly merited his paycheque (and even a bonus.)"
(Le Devoir, 4 March 2008)
Feb. 28. 2008 | Profile
"For baseball-loving violinist James Ehnes, it was a musical home run: a sold-out audience leaping to its feet at the end of the concert, shouting and whistling its appreciation. Few recitals I have witnessed have been more enthusiastically received. Ehnes plays a Stradivarius violin, and his style of performance is congruent with everything the name has come to mean in violin tone: brilliant yet singing, sensuous yet full-throated and powerful. Armstrong was all fire and energy in the Strauss, the two performers well matched in their approach to the music and in the superb technical level displayed."
(Calgary Herald, 29 February 2008)
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Feb. 11, 2008 | News
Last night James Ehnes took home the 2008 GRAMMY Award for Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with Orchestra) for his recording of the violin concertos by Barber, Korngold and Walton with Bramwell Tovey and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Congratulations to everyone involved in the project!
Listen to James and Bramwell Tovey talk about their GRAMMY win on CBC Radio's As It Happens
(time point 20:12)
Feb. 5, 2008 | News
James Ehnes has become the youngest person ever elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada: The Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canadathe national academy dedicated to the promotion of exceptional learning, research and accomplishments in the arts, humanities and sciences. The citation reads:
"Widely considered one of the finest violinists of his generation, James Ehnes has established an international reputation of rare distinction for his performances of uncommon expressivity and musicianship with the world's most renowned conductors and orchestras. Possessing a remarkable, award-winning discography of over 20 CDs at the young age of 31, he also gives generously of his time to aspiring young musicians in the cities in which he travels. James Ehnes is one of Canada's brightest cultural exports as he consistently reminds international critics and audiences of Canada's rich musical depth."
Feb. 5, 2008 | News
The JUNO Award nominations were announced today and James is up twice -- for Barber, Korngold, Walton Concertos with the Vancouver Symphony and Bramwell Tovey and for the Elgar Violin Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Sir Andrew Davis -- both in the same category, Classical Album of the Year: Large Ensemble or Soloist with Large Ensemble.
The JUNO Awards will be handed out at ceremonies in Calgary on April 5 and 6th.
Jan. 19, 2009 | Review
"Ehnes is a deservedly world-recognized violinist, producing an intonation as sweet as an apple on all four strings, over the four octave range, and in every thumb position. His smooth legato playing lived up to Mozart's own ideal, "like oil," though he was talking more about keyboard technique. Through the whole program [he] played with the expressivity of a great musician while fronting a smallish period-sized group of strings, oboes and French horns (plus flutes in the third concerto). There was a group feeling about the playing but never a sense that Ehnes was anything less than the first among equals, playing gloriously"
(Vancouver Sun, 19 January 2008)
Jun. 19, 2008 | Reviews
"...a heart-stoppingly sensitive interpretation which has now been further consolidated through experience, making for a performance that seems to strike at the music's very soul. Ehnes, in whom technical acumen and beauty of tone can be taken for granted, captures the passion and wistfulness of the concerto's temperament ideally, the ebb and flow of emotion and pacing finding poignant counterparts in the way Andrew Davis conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra. Phrasing and dynamics follow the naturally undulating contours of the music, but, in the orchestra as in the solo part, it is the range of insights and unassuming subtleties of expression that cause the shivers to run up and down the spine."
Daily Telegraphy CLASSICAL CD of the WEEK (January 19, 2008)
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"Not since Nigel Kennedy's 1997 remake with Sir Simon Rattle and the CBSO (EMI, 1/98) have I heard an account of the Elgar as thrillingly combustible, imaginative and involving as this. James Ehnes brings to this great concerto a rapt identification, tingling temperament and glowing ardour... Not only is Ehnes's technical address impeccable and intonation miraculously true, his contribution is remarkable for its intrepid emotional scope, athletic agility and (perhaps above all) jaw-dropping delicacy - a performance of conspicuous pedigree and insight guaranteed to make you fall in love all over again with this sublime music and which can only boost Ehnes's standing as one of the most gifted and charismatic fiddlers around."
Gramophone EDITOR's CHOICE (January 2008)
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"From the opening bars you can tell this is something really special. Ehnes's playing is immediately rapturous, mercurial and subtle. He plays his 1715 'Ex Marsick' Stradivarius with a luscious, silvery tone, full of light, shade and colour, and has a very natural, eloquent way with phrasing that gets to the truth of each gesture in the music - especially in the rhapsodic, extended aria of the slow movement. His awesome technical ability sounds so natural he makes light of the fearsome difficulties of the Allegro moltos, creating a virtuoso display that's impressive, but never gaudy or flashy for its own sake. Ehnes is at his most sincere and spellbinding [in the final movement]; accompanied by the hushed interjections of the orchestra, he creates a breathtaking musical intensity. Here, soloist, conductor and orchestra shape everything beautifully, with an almost telepathic sense of togetherness; it often feels like time has been suspended for the listener."
Classic FM's Featured Disc of the Month - (January 2008)
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Jan. 12, 2008 | Review
"Soloist James Ehnes played the two lyrical movements with loving care, taste and a deep-hued glow, dispatching the zippy and technical finale with lickety-split assurance."
(Detroit Free Press, 12 January 2008)
Jan. 10, 2008 | News
James will speak about his GRAMMY nomination as well as upcoming projects. Q airs live to SIRIUS Satellite Radio at 12noon EST (repeated at 8pm and 2am) and is broadcast on CBC Radio One at 2pm and 10pm EST. Check local listings for times.
If you missed your chance live, read the CBCNews.ca story
Dec. 7, 2007 | Review
"This was one of the best Toronto recitals of 2007. [Bach] builds in difficulty that Ehnes brushed off with incredible poise. He was mesmerizing as his bow skipped from string to string. Strauss's extravagantly expressive 1887 Sonata was equally spellbinding."
(Toronto Star, 7 December 2007)
Nov. 17, 2007 | Review
“Violinist James Ehnes joined the orchestra for a rendition of William Walton's Violin Concerto that was by turns lyrical and brilliant…. The performance was as precise as it was expressive. As an encore Ehnes played a movement from Bach's Third Sonata for solo violin. It was brilliant and immaculate.”
(Ottawa Citizen, 14 November 2007)
"Two of [the works] were carried by this violinist of great class who is James Ehnes: playing that is perfectly balanced without an instant of virtuosic bluffing, a pure full sound, an admirable quality of intonation. At 31 years he emanates a maturity of thought, a serenity that permits the work being performed to find its true voice. Composed for Jasha Heifetz, of whom one could say Ehnes is the heir, [the Walton] concerto is rarely performed because it needs a violinist of this stature. While Ehnes played the Walton on his precious Stradivarius (Ex-Marsick 1715), he played Ridout's Ballade on a dazzling Guarnerius of 1745. It allowed him to give a sumptuous array of colours to this gentle ballade. As an encore, James Ehnes offered the "Allegro assai" of J.S. Bach's Sonata No. 3, musically sparkling."
(Le Droit, 15 November 2007)
“Ehnes offered his take on the Violin Concerto…He recorded this difficult, mood-shifting piece last year and, if anything, his performance last night was even more vivid. Ehnes returned after intermission to play the late Toronto composer Godfrey Ridout's Ballade No. 1 for viola and string orchestra…Here, with the bigger instrument in hand, Ehnes turned all sweet and romantic, without ever loosing the rock-steady control he has over a bow that turns every phrase into a carefully shaped arc.”
(Toronto Star, 16 November 2007)
“… Ehnes soloed as if completing a lustrous incantation featuring long, double-stop runs, which are murderously difficult though he made them sound easy.”
(Globe & Mail, 17 November 2007)
Nov. 13, 2007 | Review
Released in the UK and Canada already, James Ehnes's "spellbinding" new disc is receiving rave reviews:
"I'm mystified that the major labels aren't, as far as I know, vying to secure the services of James Ehnes. He plays Elgar's Violin Concerto with an alchemic mix of passionate intensity and clear-headed intelligence, lavishing upon this spacious, hyper-romantic work a sound of staggeringly rich, luscious beauty, from first note to last."
(London Times, 28 October 2007)
"James Ehnes plays with supreme assurance and tenderness, particularly in the central andante, the essence of the work's enigmatic inscription."
(Guardian, 11 November 2007)
"The violinist's formidable technique really does help to make this a spellbinding experience...a 'must have' for all serious collectors of romantic violin music."
(musicalcriticism.com, 22 October 2007)
"This recording goes straight to the head of the class in every department. Ehnes's technique is so secure that he can focus his attention on projecting the drama and logic of the score, and this he does like few others." (Ottawa Citizen, 10 November 2007)
"…glowing, gimmick-free performances"
(Toronto Star, 13 November 2007)
Oct. 27, 2007 | News
Catch James on Bravo! Arts & Minds October 27 at 7am and 6pm EST. If you miss it, the show will be replayed again Sunday, October 28 at 7pm EST and Wednesday, October 31 at 7:30pm EST. Check local listings for times across Canada.
To watch a clip, check out the Bravo! website
Oct. 23, 2007 | News
Release dates: UK October 29, US/Canada early November
James has recorded one of Elgar's greatest masterpieces, the Violin Concerto, with Sir Andrew Davis and the Philharmonia Orchestra. The recording was made live in the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 17 and 20 May 2007.
Early review: "The violinist's formidable technique really does help to make this a spellbinding experience...a 'must have' for all serious collectors of romantic violin music."
(musical criticism.com full review)
Release date: UK, US, Canada end October, Black Box 1109
James rejoins American contemporary pianist Andrew Russo after their highly-praised Adams recording for two of American composer Paul Schoenfield's chamber works: Four Souvenirs for violin and piano and his piano trio Café Music also with cellist Edward Arron. Check back for reviews.
The CD is the 5th in Andrew Russo's American Composer series for the label. For more info: www.russocentral.com
Oct. 21, 2007 | News
James's highly-acclaimed recording of concertos by Barber, Korngold and Walton has won the 2007 Western Canadian Music Award for OUTSTANDING CLASSICAL RECORDING. The awards were given out at a ceremony in Moose Jaw, SK, October 21.