"Lustre and muscle" in Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Marin Alsop

Nov. 20, 2006 | Review


"What an honest musician this Canadian is. Nothing is superficial. He faced this warhorse squarely, made it live, and made it his own. He was febrile; his vibrato trilled; notes came glued with a little portamento. Yet nothing here was pushed to excess; nor was he ever out of step with the orchestra's own passion. Ehnes fully deserved his encore. The Bach solo proved a fine showcase for his fingers and his 1715 Stradivarius - an instrument notable as much for its dark beauty low down as its silver gleam on top. "
(London Times, 20 November 2006)

"The soloist in Mendelssohn's E minor Violin Concerto was the outstanding young Canadian, James Ehnes. Ehnes's instinctive expressiveness was allied to the sensitivity and character that Alsop etched into the orchestral background. Bold of line and free of sentiment, Ehnes's playing had lustre and muscle, with beautiful turns of phrase in the slow movement and a light, airy quality to the finale. This was a performance that stripped away clichés that might have accrued in interpretations of this most familiar of concertos over the years, and showed it in all its originality and freshness."
(Daily Telegraph, 17 November 2006)




 


"Ehnes and friends light a fire with chamber program" for Festival Miami and Friends of Chamber Music

Oct. 5, 2006 | Review


"It's a testament to the players' technical finesse and musicality that Tuesday's remarkable performance conveyed all of the quartet's richness and power while keeping textures clear and the music in proper scale. Rarely will one hear a one-off gathering of musicians deliver as idiomatic and majestic a performance as this. The drama and youthful fire of the opening was as incisive as the Andante, with its song-like main theme given yearning advocacy. While supple and alert, at times Lisitsa's keyboard work seemed a touch literal next to her colleagues. But this was a wonderfully communicative performance, culminating in a blazing account of the Hungarian Rondo, taken at a lightning tempo and rounded off in a thrilling coda that brought the audience to its feet."
(Florida Sun-Sentinal, 5 October 2006)




 


Celebrating Mozart with Roberto Diaz and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra

Aug. 30, 2006 | Review


"Violinist James Ehnes and violist Roberto Diaz were the intrepid soloists for Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat Major. Happy to say, Ehnes and Diaz dispatched the tuneful concerto with ease and musicality. Ehnes' plush sound harmonized beautifully with the plangent, darker tone of Diaz, like cream and coffee. Their intricately woven melodies -- tastefully accompanied by Harth-Bedoya and the orchestra -- achieved the most synergy in the cadenzas, where individual virtuosity took a back seat to a warm blend. Both musicians made rich use of vibrato, the quivering of pitch often used by string players for expressive effect."
(Star Telegram, 27 August 2006)

"The two string players brought in for a performance of the Sinfonia Concertante — an unusual hybrid, for orchestra, solo violin, and viola — were the most satisfying of the festival. Violinist James Ehnes, heard here in May performing the Brahms Violin Concerto, and violist Roberto Diaz played their hearts out in a shimmering reading that combined style and emotional intensity."
(Fort Worth Weekly, 30 August 2006)




 


James Ehnes returns to the Seattle Chamber Music Society Summer Festival

Aug. 11, 2006 | Review


"Violinist James Ehnes, cellist Robert deMaine and Weiss played [Tchaikovsky's Trio for violin, cello and piano in A Minor] as musicians with one communal thought, and the result was enthralling."
(Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11 August 2006)

"Violinist James Ehnes made the most of his solo lines with a noble, strong and beautifully shaped tone [in Chausson's Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Quartet]."
(Seatlle Times, 28 July 2006)

"Violinist James Ehnes and pianist Adam Neiman played the crucial roles with spirit and determination. Ehnes possesses a sweet but penetrating sound and a refined musical sensibility, which found a natural home in the Chausson."
(Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 28 July 2006)

"Violinist James Ehnes and cellist Ronald Thomas, who got the lion's share of the great string tunes, played with the most elegant refinement, coupled with a passion that was echoed in Anton Nel's mighty performance at the keyboard."
(Seattle Times, 26 July 2006)

"The unexpected delight of the evening was violinist James Ehnes and harpist Heidi Krutzen in a Saint-Saens "Fantaisie" (Op. 124), which was all elegance and subtlety."
(Seattle Times, 24 July 2006)




 


A busy week for James Ehnes with 3 Concerts in 5 days across the U.S. - from the Hollywood Bowl (July 13) to the Blossom Festival (July 15) to the Philadelphia Orchestra's summer series (July 17)

Jul. 19, 2006 | Review


Of Dvorak's Violin Concerto with the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl:

"He brought extroversion and propulsive energy to a work that perhaps hasn't yet acquired its rightful status among the top-drawer concertos. Maybe that's why he emphasized its drama. He didn't allow much tenderness and introspection into his playing until the midpoint of the slow movement, right before the trumpets' arresting interruptions. In the finale, he was all fire and playfulness, and everywhere he showed powerful technique and drew a range of warm colors from the "Ex Marsick" Stradivarius of 1715, on loan from the Fulton Collection in Seattle."
(LA Times, 15 July 2006)

Of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Festival:

"For his debut Saturday with the orchestra, he played that beloved Tchaikovsky warhorse, the Violin Concerto, as if it were the newest piece on the block. He phrased with utmost expressive flexibility, drawing the romance or drama out of phrases, and employed his buttery tone...to rapturous effect. Ehnes also happens to possess one of the most wizardly bow arms in the business. In passages requiring velocity, especially in the finale, he passed across the strings at a speed that sounded dangerous, but never obscured notes. Ehnes treated Tchaikovsky as a fine balancing act between eloquent poetry and bold athleticism."
(Cleveland Plain Dealer, 16 July 2006)

"Ehnes, 30, is a musician of depth and superior musicality who was unafraid to play with subtlety and nuance even in the imposing setting of the large Blossom Music Center pavilion and lawn. Playing a 1715 Stradivarius, the ``Ex-Marsick,'' Ehnes let his ravishingly beautiful tone carry the narrative rather than pushing the dramatic angle, as some performers do. The orchestra held back and let this remarkable young player be heard to best advantage. He would be a welcome visitor again soon."
(Akron Beacon Journal, 16 July 2006)

Of Dvorak's Violin Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts:

"A Dvorák Violin Concerto with some spectacular moments of deep introspection. The Mann often puts barriers between the audience and detection of a soloist's personality, but Ehnes came across strongly. He has a gorgeous, saturated tone - alive with vibrato but clear and honest. He's measured and solid, yet he's not hesitant to outline phrases in bold edges. In the tranquil second movement [he displayed] a great ability to draw listeners into intimate moments. He gave phrases real meaning where I had never heard any before."
(Philadelphia Inquirer, 19 July 2006)




 


A recital and orchestra concert at the St. Magnus Festival in the Orkneys, Scotland

Jun. 20, 2006 | Review


"Ehnes (with pianist Eduard Laurel) proved that everything from Mozart to Bartok is within his virtuosic scope. There was more Prokofiev, too,...and a gorgeous reading of Grieg's melodious second sonata...it was Bartok's first sonata, however, that really made everyone sit up. The man from Manitoba was mesmerising in the mellow second movement and meticulously manic in the folk dances of the third. To round things off there was a bow-shredding, lightning-fast party piece from the pen of showman Pablo de Saraste and an encore only slightly more sedate by Fritz Kreisler. ...Ehnes never broke sweat. The cool Canadian is...an astonishing player who should be booked by some enterprising soul for a very swift return to Scotland."
(Herald, 20 June 2006)




 


A superb debut at Symphony Center with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Apr. 28, 2006 | Review


"You had to give the superbly talented young Canadian violinist James Ehnes credit for choosing this rarity for his Symphony Center debut rather than some surefire fiddle war -horse. He dispatched the angular melodic lines with elegant aplomb -- and entirely from memory, at that. An anti-romantic concerto that demands airtight digital dexterity more than anything else got just that from Ehnes. He was roundly applauded by the CSO members and audience."
(Chicago Tribune, 28 April 2006)



 


James Ehnes celebrates Shostakovich's centenary year with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Marin Alsop

Mar. 27, 2006 | Review


"This was the performance of Shostakovich's First Violin Concerto to take away as the ultimate souvenir of the composer's centenary year. It is rare to find an interpretation in which the music's impact is at once so shattering and so exhilarating, so firmly in control yet so generous in expression, so organic in conception yet so rich in its detailed exploration of the score. Extraordinary forces were at work here, and they were harnessed with potent artistic resolve."
(Daily Telegraph, 24 March 2006)
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"Force and poetry. More than most executants, Ehnes found a way to balance these key ingredients, never sacrificing beauty of tone for the excitement of fist fights between bow and strings, yet still playing with fervour. His dark, soulful colouring cast its magic right from the opening; for the central passacaglia he avoided outright sobbing with the most carefully controlled vibrato. Ehnes's spell was at its strongest during the cadenza. This is the section that sorts out the field. Fancy show-offs or real musicians? Ehnes showed himself the genuine article, eschewing stop-go attractions for the greater power of a gradual increase in heat and dynamics. Most exciting."
(Times, 27 March 2006)
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James Ehnes Superb with the New York Philharmonic

Jan. 11, 2006 | Review


"Mr. Ehnes can really play. On Thursday night, Mr. Ehnes gave a superb account of the concerto. From the violinist, Walton requires gobs of lyricism, and Mr. Ehnes provided them. Seldom will you hear such singing on a violin. He was utterly seamless. Mr. Ehnes's sound was focused, sweet -- but it was never sugary. Technically, Mr. Ehnes seemed capable of anything. And he showed admirable understanding of Walton's music."
(New York Sun, January 9, 2006)

"Delicacy and buoyancy distinguished Ehnes' performance, particularly in his first-movement solo cadenza and the balletic sequence to follow. The piece is melodious to its core, with the violinist making the most of the tunes in even the busiest passagework...the sounds he made were spot-on, yielding the purest intonation whether in the glassy ponticello touches of the first movement's ending or the garlands of piquant double-stopping in the Prokofiev-like central scherzo. Ehnes was a connoisseur's player in a connoisseur's piece."
(Star Ledger, January 9, 2006)