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)




 


Best of 2005

Dec. 29, 2005 | Review


James Ehnes makes the list of best performances in London's Daily Telegraph and Florida's Sun Sentinal and Rick Philips chose James's recording of Bach Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord as one of his top ten picks of the year: "I was profoundly moved by the Elgar Violin Concerto played by James Ehnes in Brighton."
(Daily Telegraph, 24 December 2005)

"The Canadian fiddler displayed the flexibility, turn-on-a-dime technique and musical integrity that have made him one of the finest violinists currently before the public. With first-rate support by pianist Eduard Laurel, Ehnes served up music of Schumann, Grieg, Dvorak and Kreisler with aristocratic finesse and faultless technical command."
(Sun-Sentinal, December 29, 2005)




 


James Ehnes "red hot" in Scotland

Nov. 13, 2005 | Review


"The spotlight was on James Ehnes, the red-hot Canadian violinist. His technique is blistering, giving an utter conviction to whatever he plays - including Friday's supersonic Paganini encore. It followed a meaty performance of Bruch's Violin Concerto, which benefited as much from Ehnes's unfussy musicianship and sun-ripe tone, as from Fischer and the SCO's dramatically charged accompaniment."
(Scotsman, 14 November 2005)




 


Accolades from Montréal

Sep. 27, 2005 | Review


"Upright and imperturbable in the Heifitz manner, Ehnes left no doubt of his can-do-anything credentials, playing the forceful chords and manic dance figures of the finale [of Bartok's Violin Sonata No.1] with great authority. Even more impressive were the subtle tonal effects of the first two movements. Those minor ninths in the Adagio, impeccably in tune, sounded like octaves from another dimension."
(Montreal Gazette, 26 September 2005)




 


James Ehnes Excites Hometown Concertgoers

Sep. 23, 2005 | Review


When news of James Ehnes's homecoming to Brandon, Manitoba for a recital on Wednesday September 21 with pianist Eduard Laurel spread and tickets went on sale, the recital sold out in 1/2 an hour, causing a shift to a larger venue to accomodate the demand.

"The beauty, warmth and colour of James Ehnes' violin playing just about made me weep and gave me a new appreciation for the upper register. The duo's interpretation of the technically demanding Sonata No. 1, Sz. 75 (1921) by Bartók demonstrated the players' mastery of their instrument, the breadth of their emotions and their depth of their musical partnership. In the final programmed work, Brahm's Sonata in A, Op. 100, he held the audience captivated with his lush vibrato."
(Brandon Sun, 23 September 2005)




 


James Ehnes Effervescent with the Grand Rapids Symphony

Sep. 19, 2005 | Review


"A violinist of impeccable clarity and evident grace, Ehnes was cool and calm in the spotlight, playing easily, sometimes seemingly effortlessly. Playing with a minimum of histrionics, which is what Mendelssohn intended, Ehnes' first-movement cadenza held both audience and fellow musicians in rapt attention as he entered quietly and exited in the same manner. Ehnes drew a delicate, singing quality from his Stradivarius in the slow movement, and I can't recall when I've heard a solo violinist play so softly for so long and yet still be heard. The sparkling effervescence of the finale ended in a prolonged standing ovation."
(Grand Rapids Press, 17 September 2005)