Aaron Copland (1900-1990)

Sonata for violin and piano (1942-1943)
[1] I Andante semplice
[2] II Lent
[3] III Allegretto giusto

Charles Ives (1874-1954)

[4] Largo for violin, clarinet and piano

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)

Trio for violin, cello and piano (1937)
[5] I Adagio non troppo
[6] II Tempo di Marcia
[7] III Largo

Elliott Carter (1908-2012)

[8] Elegy for viola and piano

Samuel Barber (1910-1981)

String Quartet in B minor op.11
[9] I Molto allegro e appassionato
[10] II Molto adagio
[11] Molto allegro

James Ehnes and friends from the Seattle Chamber Music Society hit the road on a fascinating journey through chamber music by some of the giants of 20th- century American classical music. Aaron Copland's masterful Violin Sonata, Leonard Bernstein's youthful and vibrant Piano Trio, and Samuel Barber's B minor String Quartet with its famous Adagio slow movement (known the world over as Barber's Adagio) are joined by Elliott Carter's haunting Elegy from early in his long career and the otherworldly Largo by that great maverick Charles Ives.



Coming Soon...






 



Bela Bartok (1881-1945

Contrasts, BB 116 (1938) for Violin, Clarinet, and Piano
[1] I Verbunkos (Recruiting Dance)
[2] II Pheno (Relaxation)
[3] III Sebes (Fast Dance)
James Ehnes, violin
Michael Collins clarinet
Andrew Armstrong piano

Sonatina, BB 102a (1925)
[4] I Dudások (Bagpipes)
[5] II Medvetánc (Bear Dance)
[6] III Finale
James Ehnes, violin
Andrew Armstrong piano

Forty-four Duos, BB 104 (1931) for Two Violins
[7] – [51]
James Ehnes, violin
Amy Schwartz Moretti violin



James Ehnes presents his third album of chamber works by Bartók. The previous volumes have, along with his outstanding concerto disc, established his formidable reputation as a Bartók interpreter. Here Ehnes is joined by the pianist Andrew Armstrong, violinist Amy Schwartz Moretti, and Michael Collins, one of the world’s leading clarinettists.

The Sonatina, originally composed in 1915 for piano, was based on melodies which Bartók had collected during expeditions in Transylvania. The transcription for violin and piano heard here was produced ten years later by a young student of Bartók’s, Endre Gertler. Bartók composed Contrasts in 1938 for the jazz clarinettist Benny Goodman and violinist Joseph Szigeti, who originally had requested a work in two movements, each with a cadenza for one of the featured instruments. Fulfilling this request, Bartók added a central slow movement, entitled ‘PihenÅ‘’ (Relaxation). The opening movement, ‘Verbunkos’, alludes to a march-like Hungarian military recruiting dance. The finale, entitled ‘Sebes’ (Quick), is a lively romp at the heart of which lies an unexpected episode of haunting calmness. Besides writing for such outstanding musicians as Szigeti and Goodman, Bartók composed a lot of music for students, including the Forty-four Duos for two violins recorded here. These short pieces take material from a remarkably wide array of folk traditions and interlink the styles and culture of diverse peoples.


“An exemplary account… warmly recommended for insights into a composer whose stature only increases over time.”
(International Record Review, July/August 2014)

“Although Bartók’s 44 Duos for two violins may have initially been conceived as a sequence of teaching pieces, such is the quality of the musical invention in these unpretentious miniatures that they prove equally satisfying for both listeners and performers. Certainly James Ehnes and Amy Schwartz Moretti make the best possible case for experiencing, the entire cycle in one whole sweep. They maximise the amount of colour that can be squeezed out of the simplest two-part writing and sustain vibrant musical dialogue throughout. More importantly, both artists manage to encapsulate an amazing variety of moods… such is the brilliance and sensitivity of the playing that I hope these performers can be coaxed back into the studio to record other 20th-century works for this particular instrumental combination, such as Berg’s Adagio or Khachaturian’s Trio”
(BBC Music magazine, August 2014)

“…this witty, slimline and, yes, profoundly conversational performance [of Bartok’s ‘Contrasts’], agility being a constant virtue and with never a hint of one player stealing the limelight from another. The nocturnal shimmering of the middle movement, ‘Relaxation’, is conveyed with cut-glass precision, and the closing moments of the ‘Fast Dance’ last movement are brilliant in the extreme. The trick in performing [the 44 Duos] well is one of balance, making sure that the duetting element is respected down to even the tiniest detail. James Ehnes and Amy Schwartz Moretti are fully the equal of even their most illustrious rivals, their playing varied and characterful enough to make listening to any of the four books of Duos at a single sitting a real pleasure. A lovely programme.”
(Gramophone, August 2014)

“Professionals, too, relish the opportunities for character and tonal colouring that these miniatures [44 Duos] offer, as is fully evident here in the partnership of James Ehnes and Amy Schwartz Moretti. While Bartók harnessed and, in some cases, imitated folk music in these pieces, there is a creative sophistication to them that needs to be recognised by players and conveyed in performance over and above the fundamental folk intonations and inflections. Ehnes and Moretti possess precisely the degree of finesse required to bring both piquancy and a sense of stylish panache to the music here. Their 44 duos are presented on this release along with a performance of the succinct Sonatina and also the dazzling “Contrasts” that Bartók wrote for Benny Goodman and Joseph Szigeti, pungently played by Ehnes, Michael Collins and Andrew Armstrong.”
(Daily Telegraph, 19 June 2014)








 



Aram Khachaturian (1903–1978)

Violin Concerto (1940)
[1] I Allegro con fermezza
[2] II Andante sostenuto
[3] III Allegro vivace

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975)

String Quartet no.7 in F sharp minor op.108
[4] I Allegro
[5] II Lento
[6] III Allegro – Allegretto – [Adagio]

String Quartet no.8 in C minor op.110
[7] I Largo
[8] II Allegro molto
[9] III Allegretto
[10] IV Largo
[11] V Largo


Khachaturian's lyrical and highly virtuosic Violin Concerto was composed in 1940 for David Oistrakh. Armenian folk music mingles with Borodinesque romanticism, with the concerto rounded off by a dazzling finale that showcases James Ehnes’s technical prowess.

Shostakovich's most famous string quartet, his Eighth, was dedicated to the victims of fascism and war. The terse Seventh is a deeply personal and anguished work dedicated to his deceased wife.


“[Ehnes’s] recorded legacy so far testifies to a remarkable, penetrating and communicative talent. That talent is certainly manifest again here in Khachaturian’s Concerto. The playing is lissom, spicy and lyrically luminous, complemented by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s lithe rhythms and seductive colouring under Mark Wigglesworth. If Ehnes as soloist is no stranger to the catalogue, the Ehnes Quartet, formed as recently as 2010, here appears for the first time on disc in two of Shostakovich’s string quartets…the Ehnes Quartet has full measure of the music’s essential intimacy and pensive atmosphere, bringing also a sharply defined virtuosity to the nervy counterpoint and jarring dissonance in the Seventh Quartet’s finale and intense concentration coupled with arresting spontaneity to the narrative of the Eighth.”
(Gramophone, July 2014)

“James Ehnes emphasises its [Khachaturian Violin Concerto] lyrical trajectory with a golden outpouring of sound that suggests parallels with Scheherazade’s seductive spinning of tales. He solves the music’s not inconsiderable technical problems with effortless poise and precision – even the finale’s rampant moto perpetuo figurations are hoisted aloft with an exultant cantabile, enhanced by the gently cushioned engineering that convincingly replicates a concert-hall perspective…The [Ehnes Quartet’s] corporate technical and intonational security is exemplary, tonally well matched and without any suggestion of Ehnes heading the ensemble from the leader’s chair. Indeed, the pseudo-contrapuntal whirlwind that opens the finale of Shostakovich’s Seventh Quartet finds all four players hurling themselves into the musical fray with equal alacrity... these are deeply committed performances.” (The Strad, July 2014) “James Ehnes conveys [the Khachaturian concerto’s] lighthearted mood, folk elements and virtuosic passages with sweet tone and technical aplomb, deftly accompanied by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the conductor Mark Wigglesworth. Shostakovich’s String Quartets No. 7 and 8, which Mr. Ehnes performs with his quartet, offer a stark contrast in mood — particularly their searing rendition of the Eighth.”
(New York Times, 15 May 2014)

“The outer movements, in contrast to Shostakovich’s dour concertos brim with high spirits and insistent rhythmic propulsion…Wigglesworth’s Melbourne orchestra underlines Ehnes’s enthusiasm for [Khachaturian’s] work with infectious elan. The coupling with two of Shostakovich’s greatest quartets is unexpected, but this highly personal music, infused with folk idioms, yet darker and angrier. Ehnes et al perfectly capture its gloom and rage.”
Album of the Week (Sunday Times, 6 July 2014)

“The Khachaturian, composed for David Oistrakh in 1940, is a blast, its raucous optimism totally out of step with its time. James Ehnes's total lack of inhibition is just what the work deserves, and this full-blooded performance is glorious. As guilty pleasures go, this is up with the best of them. Ehnes's own string quartet provide the couplings. Shostakovich's String Quartet no 7 is an underrated, poignant gem. There's a vivid sense of loss, of bittersweet nostalgia, but the sentiment is never laid on with a trowel. The violence of the finale is a real shock in these players' hands, making the elegiac close more touching. The Eighth Quartet is more familiar – the opening paragraph given a welcome touch of warmth and humanity, the faster, sections dispatched with steely, reckless abandon. Fabulous, deep-toned cello playing from Robert deMaine adds to the impact of an earthy, profound performance.”
(ArtsDesk, 7 June 2014)

“From the Armenian folk-inspired lines of the first movement to the lively and boisterous final movement that sounds very much like a Russian counterpart of an American hoedown, James Ehnes has every pitch inflection covered. But where he really shines, is in this concerto's slow middle movement Andante sostenuto…Ehnes has a way, especially in slow and expressive passages, to darken the tone of his violin, making it sound closer to a viola. And this of course adds greatly to the sorrowful effect of the music itself, which leads to an emotively powerful climax near the end.”
(Classical Music Sentinel, May 2014)

“The Concerto for Violin by Khachaturian (1940) is a pure delight…James Ehnes illuminates the work with his velvet sonority and a contagious enthusiasm.”
(Le Devoir, 25 April 2014)

“Katchaturian has taken the measure of great violinists and James Ehnes does not disappoint: he has the passion and brilliance needed to take full advantage of the exuberance of extreme movements, and a refined sound to shine in the beautiful middle movement. As first violinist of the quartet that bears his name, (and of which this is the debut recording) James Ehnes sets the tone for this interpretation of a quite phenomenal virtuosity but even more for its remarkable accuracy of tone.”
(Musikzen, 2 July 2014)

“This disc of two Soviet contemporaries in which James Ehnes performs as soloist and as quartet leader marks another success for this formidable Canadian violinist. The Khachaturian concerto…Ehnes, here beadily accompanied by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, communicates eloquently the energy and rhythmic adventure of the outer movements, while enjoying the almost mystical mood of the central Andante. With his own quartet he plays the Seventh and Eighth Quartets of Shostakovich, both performances pliant and powerful.”
(The Observer, 15 June 2014)

“James Ehnes…delivers a very intelligent and personal interpretation. The violinist, whose technique is highly-polished, seeks out the rhapsodic spirit of the score. Very respectfully, his bowing carves out the folkloric inspiration of certain melodies. The Eastern influence is particularly emphasized in the second movement “Andante sostenuto”, with its bewitching themes. The musician’s technique allows him to face the technical demands of the raging and tumultuous final. Alongside the legendary readings of David Oïstrakh and Leonid Kogan, this interpretation makes its mark for its musical accuracy and strong personality. The Ehnes Quartet delivers a powerful and reflective interpretation of Shostakovich…the quartet gives a very lovely performance combining beautiful instrumentation and technique.”
(ResMusica, 18 march 2014)








 



CD 1

Sergey Prokofiev (1891-1953)

Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 19
[1] I Andantino
[2] II Scherzo
[3] III Moderato

BBC Philharmonic
Gianandrea Noseda, Conductor

Sonata for Two Violins, Op. 56
[4] 1 Andante cantabile
[5] 2 Allegro
[6] 3 Commodo (quasi Allegretto)
[7] 4 Allegro con brio

Amy Schwartz Moretti, violin

Sonata for Violin Solo, Op. 115
[8] 1 Moderato
[9] 2 Tema. Andante dolce
Variazione I
Variazione II Scherzando
Variazione III Andante
Variazione IV
Variazione V
[10] 3 Con brio

James Ehnes, violin

Violin Concerto No. 2, Op. 63
[11] I Allegro moderato
[12] II Andante assai
[13] III Allegro, ben marcato

BBC Philharmonic
Gianandrea Noseda, Conductor

CD 2

Sergey Prokofiev (1891-1953)

Dedicated to David Oistrakh
Sonata No. 1, Op. 80
[1] I Andante assai
[2] II Allegro brusco
[3] III Andante
[4] IV Allegrissimo

Andrew Armstrong, piano

Five Melodies, Op. 35bis
[5] 1 (To Paul Kochanski) Andante
[6] 2 (To Cecilia Hansen) Lento, ma non troppo
[7] 3 (To Paul Konchaski) Animato, ma non allegro
[8] 4 (To Paul Kochanski) Allegretto leggero e scherzando
[9] 5 (To Joseph Szigeti) Andante non troppo

Andrew Armstrong, piano





2014 JUNO AWARD

“The latest release from Canadian violinist James Ehnes…proves, if proof were necessary at this stage in his career, that Ehnes is truly the Wayne Gretzky of the violin….it suggests not just skill (his technique is always brilliant), not just impeccable precision (his intonation is shockingly accurate), but an other-worldly sense of musical pacing (his phrasing is, quite simply, breath-taking). The Great Gretzky was said to know where the puck was headed before it got there. He was described as being able to control time. Same with Ehnes, whose effortless control of an evolving musical line is quite simply staggering. Throughout it all, Ehnes plays the violin like Gretzky skates — like no one else on earth.”
DISC OF THE WEEK (CBC Music, 28 September 2013)

“To me James Ehnes has always been a violinist with technique and virtuosity to spare, but it is always in the service of the music he’s performing – never excessive or flamboyant. He finds lyricism and meaning in everything he approaches, whether it’s a contemporary piece or an established staple of the repertoire. He’s among the best out there right now.”
(WFMT Chicago, Kerry Frumkin, 20 October 2013)

“Ehnes is joined by Amy Schwartz Moretti for an electrifying performance of the duo sonata. In their mix of lyricism and sharp-edged rhythmic and harmonic piquancy, Ehnes and Moretti are absolutely spot on in defining the music’s character. This is playing that truly grabs you by the scruff of the neck and commands attention. So, too, is Ehnes’s in the solo sonata, a work from towards the end of Prokofiev’s life but still one in which he was able to harness his energies and his distinctive personality. For the two concertos, Ehnes teams up again with an orchestra and conductor he knows well – the BBC Philharmonic and Gianandrea Noseda – who yield apt, complementary shades of colouring, both brilliant and pungent, to match Ehnes’s superb artistry.”
5 STARS (Daily Telegraph, 5 October 2013)

“Wow. Everything works here. James Ehnes rarely disappoints, and the playing on this beautifully recorded two-disc set is immaculate. It’s not just the musicality, the remarkable ability to give shape and colour to the thorniest solo writing, but his modesty – he’s a player who knows exactly when to step back and let collaborators take the spotlight. …Gianandrea Noseda’s lithe, lean-toned BBC Philharmonic are superb partners. Listen to the quirky tick-tocking which opens the first concerto’s final movement and marvel at how Ehnes floats slyly above. Both performances are fabulous, and among the best you’ll hear. What makes this set essential are the couplings; we get all of Prokofiev’s solo violin music. The Op 56 Sonata for two violins has Ehnes teamed with Amy Schwartz Moretti. The music’s clean, neo-classical contours are boldly projected, and there’s a rare sense of fun. The two contrasting sonatas for violin and piano come across beautifully, Ehnes managing to find much-needed warmth in the chilly F minor work, and revelling in the purer lyricism of the D major sonata, a recasting of a solo flute work. Andrew Armstrong’s piano backings are a model of sensitivity. Unmissable.”
(The Arts Desk, 28 September 2013)

“The repertoire on the CD is perfect and unique. The logic is irrefutable and to have everything by the same artist is laudable. James Ehnes’s gentle and aristocratic playing is ideally adapted to these works. There are sublime moments, like the entrance of the violin in the 2nd movement of Concerto No. 2. The violinist has surrounded himself with partners that he knows intimately and the result is perfect harmony.”
(Le Devoir, 27 September 2013)

“Ehnes’s sizzling accounts of the two popular concertos. Just as compelling are the chamber works…Ehnes and his pianist give performances worthy of the giants (Oistrakh and Richter) for whom their parts were conceived.”
(Sunday Times, 8 September 2013)








 



Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

Swan Lake, Op. 20
Ballet in Four Acts

CD 1

[1] Introduction
[2] - [18] Act I
[19] - [29] Act II

CD 2

[1] – [21] Act III
[22] - [26] Act IV





“There is music here seldom heard in the theatre...Some of Jarvi's nifty tempi might prove undanceable, but his light touch keeps the Bergen players on their toes. Ehnes glitters in his virtuoso solos.”
(Sunday Times, 13 October 2013)








 



Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)


Violin Concerto, op.15

[1] I Moderato con moto
[2] II Vivace – Cadenza
[3] III Passacaglia: Andante lento (Un poco meno mosso)

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)

[4] I Nocturne: Moderato
[5] II Scherzo: Allegro
[6] III Passacaglia: Andante
[7] Cadenza
[8] IV Burlesque: Allegro con brio – Presto





“Virtuosity is not exploited in any facile, ingratiating way but rather to intensify the substance of the music. Ehnes has full measure of it and of its eloquent application… In both [concertos], the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra adds compelling force and colour, Ehnes’s range and inflections of tone and his mature spectrum of interpretation gauged with exceptional insight. The partnership between Ehnes, Karabits and the BSO comes across as a true meeting of minds, and these outstanding performances cannot be recommended highly enough.” 5 Stars
(Daily Telegraph, June 2013)

“James Ehnes’s sinewy tonal lustre, dazzling technique and Perlman-like ability to soar whenever a decent melody comes along, works wonders in the Britten…Ehnes proves beyond a doubt that the Violin Concerto deserves an honoured place alongside those by Elgar and Walton.”
(Sinfini, June 2013)

“These inspired performances are subtle and persuasive as well as fiery. James Ehnes plays with a powerful lyricism which makes the complexities melt away.”
(The Observer, June 2013)

““I never cease to listen in awe at the supernatural control violinist James Ehnes has over his bow. His latest album, featuring the Benjamin Britten and Dmitri Shostakovich concertos with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra may not be easy listening, but it commands instant and total respect. This Onyx release with conductor Kirill Karabits puts Ehnes in the position of having to be at once strong and delicate, lyrical as well as dispassionate, cool but not devoid of humanity. And somehow all of these emotional attributes need to both inform and be conjured by finely tuned physical movements. Ehnes is brilliant on all counts.”
(Musical Toronto, May 2013)








 



Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

The Sleeping Beauty, Op. 66
Ballet in a Prologue and Three Acts
À Mr Jean Wséwolojsky

CD 1

[1] Introduction
[2-13] Prologue
[14-21] Act I
[19] Variation d'Aurore (James Ehnes, violin)
[22-30] Act II

CD 2

[1-9] Act II (cont’d)
[7] Entr'acte (James Ehnes, violin)
[10-35] Act III
[31] Variation II, Aurore (James Ehnes, violin)





“A performance that captures so much of the music's charm, vigour and breadth…There are bonuses in the fact that James Ehnes is the scintillating violin soloist in Aurora’s variations in Acts 1 and 3, and in the Act 2 Entr’acte, with the American cellist Robert deMaine playing with discreet passion the solo part in the Pas d’action of Act 2.”
(Gramophone, January 2013)

“The producers have pulled out all the stops and engaged no less a violinist than James Ehnes to play the important violin solos, a strikingly indulgent decision which pays dividends because Ehnes' outstanding technique makes these sections truly memorable.”
(MusicWeb, January 2013)

“The exceptional James Ehnes – luxury casting bringing him in for the three virtuosic violin solos… Ehnes is every bit as fine as one would expect of one of the great violinists of the age. Indeed, if I were to suggest a reason to hear this version it would be to hear Ehnes’ contribution.”
(MusicWeb, December 2012)








 



Bela Bartok (1881-1945)

Sonata, BB 124 (1944)
for Solo Violin
[1] Tempo di ciaccona.
[2] Fuga. Risoluto, non troppo vivo.
[3] Melodia. Adagio
[4] Presto.

Sonata, BB 28 (1903)
[5] Allegro moderato
[6] Andante
[7] Vivace

Hungarian Folksongs, BB 109 (1931)
Transcription for violin and piano by Tivadar Országh and the composer of nine pieces from For Children, BB 53 (1908-10) for solo piano
[8-16]


Hungarian Folk Tunes (1926-27)
Transcription for violin and piano by Tivadar Országh and the composer of nine pieces from For Children, BB 53 (1908-10) for solo piano
[17-23]

Romanian Folk Dances (1925-26)
Transcription for violin and piano by Zoltán Székely of Romanian Folk Dances, BB 68 (1915) for solo piano
[24-29] Accelerando - A tempo





“Ehnes gives a stunning account of the Solo Sonata…clarity of articulation, beauty of sound, the ease with which he surmounts the technical challenges, and deep understanding of the works structure and character; all these combine to make a performance that’s exciting and enthralling. The 1903 Sonata…played as here, with intense commitment and real virtuosity, [is] a most enjoyable piece. The middle movement is particularly engaging – a sombre, funereal theme and variations that suggest different styles of gypsy music, with cimbalom-like flourishes. Andrew Armstrong catches the spirit of these to perfection. The three suites of folk pieces are performed in authentic style and with irresistible panache. If anyone doubts Ehnes’s status as a wizard of the violin, they should listen to the way he plays the harmonics on tr 19.”
(Gramophone, January 2013)

“James Ehnes…showcases his command of the composer’s varied styles and rhythmic flair. The soft, mournful "Melodia" highlights the Sonata, BB 124 for solo violin. Ehnes maintains vulnerability without ever sounding tenuous and his harmonics are chilling. Ehnes’ playing is equally neat and stylish in a series of Romanian Folk Dances, from a ceremonious stick dance to a rousing polka. He brings a seductive sway and silken tone to the first of a group of Hungarian songs that are variously plaintive, hearty and sprightly.”
(Star-Ledger, 18 January 2013)

“James Ehnes's outstanding Bartók series for Chandos continues with the early romantic Sonata BB 28 (1903), Hungarian Folk Songs and Romanian Folk Dances. Big toned yet poetic, Ehnes is a persuasive interpreter.”
(The Observer, 20 January 2013)

“It was Schoenberg who quipped about waiting for violinists’ fourth fingers having to become longer to make his 1936 Violin Concerto sound playable. There was a similar gap between the music and its delivery in Bartók’s late Solo Violin Sonata of 1944. The sonata’s time has surely come, as the lucidity and technical grasp of James Ehnes’s new account make perfectly clear.”
(Irish Times, 18 January 2013)








 



Bela Bartok (1881-1945)

Rhapsody No. 1, BB 94a (1928, revised 1929)
[1] I ('Lassu'.) Moderato
[2] II ('Friss'.) Allegretto moderato
[3] III (Agitato)

Sonata No. 2, BB 85 (1922)
[4] I Molto moderato
[5] II Allegretto

Rhapsody No. 2, BB 96a (1928, revised 1945)
[6] I ('Lassu'.) Moderato
[7] II ('Friss'.) Allegro moderato

Sonata No. 1, BB 84 (1921)
[8] I Allegro appassionato
[9] II Adagio
[10] III Allegro

[11] Andante, BB 26b (1902)

Alternative ending for Part II of Rhapsody No. 1
[12] Accelerando - A tempo
[13] (Agitato)




“They are performances of outstanding musical insight and technical brilliance...James Ehnes and Andrew Armstrong perfectly encapsulate the anxieties projecting in both works...But they also find room for repose and reflection...As with Ehnes's recording of the Concertos, the present collection sweeps the board in terms of performance and generosity alike.” 5 Stars
(BBC Music Magazine, March 2012)

“The performances are assertive but never excessively forceful, tonally sweet (useful in this often acerbic music) and, from Andrew Armstrong's standpoint, almost impressionist in their projection of nuance and tonal shading...an exceedingly generous programme (80'30''), expertly engineered, well planned, beautifully executed.” RECORDING OF THE MONTH
(Gramophone Magazine, March 2012)

“Ehnes has the measure of the fractured sonata design of the Allegro appassionato [in No. 1]...[He] gives a tellingly understated account of the preludial Molto moderato [in No. 2], dovetailing into a main Allegretto which open out its thematic and expressive potential so the work as a whole seems to unfold seamlessly towards a rapt and unifying postlude.”
(International Record Review, February 2012)








 



Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893)

Violin Concerto in D op.35
[1] I Allegro moderato
[2] II Canzonetta: Andante
[3] III Finale: Allegro vivacissimo

[4] Sérénade mélancolique op.26

[5] Valse-scherzo op.34

Souvenir d’un lieu cher op.42
[6] I Méditation
[7] II Scherzo
[8] III Mélodie




“The ubiquitous Tchaikovsky concerto is given a radiant facelift here by two musicians who have a marked instinct for the tone of the music. [The] soloist is the wondrous James Ehnes, a thinker of the violin as well as a supreme virtuoso of the instrument. Listen to his mellifluous, muted line in the central canzonetta, his natural lyricism imbued with apt, reflective colours, and you experience an artist of the first order. Ashkenazy also paints a discreet backdrop here, focusing subtly on individual instrumental timbres in a way that complements Ehnes’s approach ideally. Ehnes is not a violinist to use bravura as an end in itself. His dexterity is a marvel of lightness and precision in the finale, but it is consistently aimed towards a musical goal, the range of tone beautifully judged and, as in the first movement, the structure and direction kept in clear view. This is a consummate performance.”
***** Classical CD of the Week (Daily Telegraph, 5 January 2012)

“Ehnes’s virtuosity impresses on account of its virtue. He makes a ravishing sound and meets every technical challenge thrown at him with utterly reliable intonation, tonal consistency and beautifully controlled articulation. What distinguishes him, however, is an almost self-effacing intelligence. In the concerto and in the less familiar, smaller-scale works that fill the rest of this disc, there is every opportunity for expressive self-indulgence, yet, while not rejecting Tchaikovsky the Romantic, Ehnes remembers that this music is founded in the clarity and balance of classicism. It’s a viewpoint apparently shared by the fine Sydney Symphony and Vladimir Ashkenazy.”
(Sunday Times, 8 January 2012)

“Ehnes’s peculiar talent, it seems to me, is to take a work laden with performance preconceptions and burdened with the recorded legacies of the great and good and offer us something freshly minted. The Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto is no exception. Bravura for Ehnes is not an end in itself (although it can be a means, as the exhilarating finale proves). What we get is a player with an eye to overall structure, a pin-point intonational accuracy and a real sense of joie de vivre.”
(Limelight Magazine, April 2012)

“My eyes lit up when I saw that Canadian violinist James Ehnes has just released a concert recording of the Tchaikovsky concerto made in Sydney, especially with a Tchaikovskian of the calibre of Vladimir Ashkenazy… Ehnes brings a lovely conversational quality to his dialogue with the orchestra. He’s balanced realistically against them, and it allows you to appreciate the sometimes rugged charm of the orchestral writing as Ehnes soars eloquently overhead. The second movement canzonetta has a velvety, muted passion and the finale’s explosive opening is impressively urgent, and when Ehnes launches into his solo he leaves room to breathe. It’s so expressive, and not just a hyperventilating rush for the line.”
(BBC Radio 3 CD Review, 3 December 2011)

“This is the second recent recording Tchaikovsky's Violin Concero in D, and to my ears a more refined and mature affair than Laurent Korcia's melodramatic reading. Even in the bravura passages, James Ehnes' bowing seems calm and effortless. Elegent and technically adept, Ehnes is never tempted into over-emotional flourishes: each phrase is precisely measured. It's not a cold performance - it is, after all, Tchaikovsky. But Ehnes never lets that act as an excuse for overplaying, as demonstrated by the solo passage 10 minutes into the first movement, a knife edge dance of subtle and illuminating dexterity.”
(Independent, 9 December 2011)








 



Bela Bartok (1881-1945)

Violin Concerto No. 1, BB 48a
[1] I Andante sostenuto
[2] II Allegro giocoso
[2] II Allegro giocoso


Violin Concerto No.2, BB 117
[3] I Allegro non troppo
[4] II Andante tranquillo
[5] III Allegro molto


Viola Concerto, Sz 120, BB 128
[6] I Moderato
[7] II Adagio religioso
[8] III Allegro vivace




"James Ehnes offers us the most 'Heifetzian' recording [of Bartok's First Violin Concerto] yet, a vibrant, tender-hearted, boisterously youthful account, bittersweet where needs be and eagerly supported by the BBC Philharmonic under Gianandrea Noseda... I can't think of a finer version of the First Concerto than this... In the unfinished Viola Concerto…Ehnes fully matches the excellent Lawrence Power. Indeed, his rich, yielding tone makes an even stronger impression... The kernel of the piece is its slow movement and I challenge any reader to name a version that is either more moving or more beautifully played."
RECORDING OF THE MONTH (Gramophone, November 2011)

"The Violin Concerto No. 2 is a central work in all senses of the word, and Ehnes plays with authority and strength as well as poetic and lyrical sensitivity. The Andante tranquillo of the second movement always makes me melt on the spot, and I admire Ehnes's restraint here, giving the notes a confidingly conversational quality rather than imposing extra layers of lyricism. The subdued drama in this movement is a different world in this recording, and the word 'moving' hardly does it justice. The way this movement ends is some of the most wonderful music you will ever hear. ...this is one of my discs of the year."
RECORDING OF THE MONTH (MusicWeb International, November 2011)

"The passionate, playful narrative running through Bartók's First Violin Concerto is affectionately caught by soloist and orchestra alike in this superb performance by James Ehnes and the BBC Philharmonic under Gianandrea Noseda. ...the opening folk-inflected melody [of the Second Concerto] beautifully unfurled by Ehnes in a performance that, throughout, is ear-catchingly alert to the music’s range of tonal shading, its abrupt switches of pace and mood, its powerful bravura and its pungent lyricism."
5 STARS (Daily Telegraph, 1 September 2011)








 



Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Partita No. 3 in E major, BWV 1006
[1] Preludio

Antonín Dvorák (1841-1904)

Romantic Pieces, Op. 75
[2] Allegro moderato - with Eduard Laurel, piano

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Sonata in G major for Violin and Harpsichord, No. 6 Appendix, BWV 1019A
[3] Cantabile ma un poco Adagio - with Luc Beauséjour, harpsichord

Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962)

[4] Liebesleid
[5] Tambourin chinois
[6] Liebesfreud
- with Eduard Laurel, piano


Antonín Dvorák (1841-1904)

Sonatina in G major for Violin and Piano, Op. 100
[7] Larghetto — Poco più mosso — Meno mosso, Tempo I - with Eduard Laurel, piano

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004
[8] Ciaccona

Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)

[9] Havanaise
[10] Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso - with Orchestre symphonique de Québec and Yoav Talmi, conductor

Jules Massenet (1842-1912)

[11] Méditation - with Orchestre symphonique de Québec and Yoav Talmi, conductor










 



Felix Mendelssohn (1809–1847)

Violin Concerto in E minor op.64
[1] I Allegro molto appassionato
[2] II Andante
[3] III Allegretto non troppo – Allegro molto vivace

Octet in E flat op.20
[4] I Allegro moderato ma con fuoco
[5] II Andante
[6] III Scherzo
[7] IV Presto


“The concerto has been one of my very favorite pieces of music since I first performed it 25 years ago, and to record it with my dear friend and colleague Vladimir Ashkenazy and the wonderful Philharmonia Orchestra was a dream come true. While the concerto is one of Mendelssohn’s final works, the Octet is one of his earliest masterpieces, written when he was just 16 years old. I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to record this with some of my closest friends from the Seattle Chamber Music Society, an organization that has had a very special place in my life for the last 15 years. I hope this recording will bring as much pleasure to its listeners as this music has brought to me.”
--James Ehnes

Musicians of the Seattle Chamber Music Society

Violins

James Ehnes
Erin Keefe
Andrew Wan
Augustin Hadelich

Violas

Cynthia Phelps
Richard O’Neill

Cellos

Robert deMaine
Edward Arron





"Bringing something new to established repertoire: surely that's the ultimate test of any artist. If so, James Ehnes has done it again...The first thing that hits you about Ehnes's reading is the rhythmic propulsion of the concertos outer movements, which lifts the music, revealing its glorious bone structure...there is so much compelling, beautifully observed phrasing that the effect is instead completely uplifting. It's there again in the first movement of the Octet, and once more the sense is of a joyous, exhilarating ride rather than anything overly driven. Ehnes is a musician of consummate imagination (and technique!) coupled with a lack of ego that is completely winning. just sample the way he he and his Seattle Chamber Music colleagues judge the coda of the Octet's Allegro moderato ma con fuoco. Con fuoco indeed.
EDITOR'S CHOICE (Gramophone, February 2011)

"Ehnes played the Mendelssohn to packed houses last season and this recording from the Warwick Arts Centre captures his technically immaculate, precise style, matched by the orchestra's delicate restraint. The brisk immediacy of the opening Allegro gives Ehnes a chance to show off his brilliant passage work from the start. He is utterly in charge yet never sacrifices expressiveness for precision and technical excellence. The orchestra is on impeccable form under Ashkenazy, playing with a lyrical lightness and unfettered transparency which is captured in a well-balanced and finely detailed live recording that brings an added sense of spontaneity. The Octet has rarely sounded more symphonic as Ehnes and his Seattle friends demonstrate all the energy and wit of chamber playing at its most dazzling."
(Classic FM, March 2011)

“English has too few superlatives to describe the musicianship of James Ehnes. Disc after disc and concert after concert prove him to be - as British virtuoso Jack Liebeck described him - ‘bullet proof’. With spotless intonation, a ravishing tone and an incomparable fleetness of finger, Ehnes combines his impeccable technique with a profundity of understanding that is unmatchable. He brings off the flashy outer movements with seemingly no effort, as if the music just flowed out of his body like water. And then there’s the stunning middle movement. Never in my 47 years have I heard such gorgeous sounds rendered with such tenderness and depth of emotion. He is joined by an outstanding group of Seattle musicians for a fine performance of the youthfully exuberant Octet. ...it is evident that the rapport between these players is of the highest order. Splendid ensemble is combined with a richness of tone that is a joy to hear. It just doesn’t get any better than this.”
RECORDING OF THE MONTH (MusicWeb International, February 2011)

"Ehnes’ sweet, soaring solo, immaculate intonation and sensitive phrasing is beautifully matched by the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy. It’s coupled with the Mendelssohn Octet from a concert in Seattle...relaxed, summery sound with plenty of weight from the lower strings and muscular energy when needed. An excellent package from Onyx Classics.”
(BBC Radio 3 CD Review, 5 February 2011)

"From his very first entry in the Concerto, James Ehnes draws us into Mendelssohn's magic world of simplicity, melancholy and elegance. From here the virtuoso passages spring like some natural, organic growth, in no way underplayed , but with a sense of rightness, that they could not conceivably be other than they are. Throughout, Ehnes's sweet, unforced tone is a pure delight."
5 stars (BBC Music Magazine, January 2011)

"His new Mendelssohn disc is simply irresistible, putting a zestful concerto (with Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Philharmonia Orchestra) alongside a frolicsome ride through the composer's younger-than-springtime Octet."
(New Zealand Herald, 18 December 2010)

“James Ehnes consolidates his position as one of the most sublime and stylish of musicians on this new recording… Ehnes’s gorgeous, supple tone is combined with that instinct for a composer’s distinctive character that makes his interpretations so compelling. The finely spun lyrical lines of the central slow movement are played with unaffected but subtle beauty, complemented by the eloquence of phrasing in the Philharmonia Orchestra. Ehnes’s innate sensibility draws him into the music’s milieu for a performance that is outstanding and unreservedly recommended. To have Mendelssohn’s precociously gifted Octet of 1825 as a companion piece makes it even more attractive, especially when it is played with such taste and zest.”
CLASSICAL CD OF THE WEEK | 5 stars (The Telegraph, November 2010)

“Brisk tempi mark out James Ehnes's reading of Mendelssohn's perennial concerto; there is nothing cloying or sentimental, even in the luscious slow movement where lesser violinists are tempted to wallow. Instead, he gives a beautifully sincere, unaffected performance, with Ashkenazy restricting the Philharmonia to the lightest of accompaniment. And Ehnes joins other north American string players in a fizzing account of the glorious Octet.”
(Guardian, November 2010)

"Great Canadian violinist James Ehnes is in full, smooth, understated splendour in the perennial-favourite Violin Concerto by Felix Mendelssohn... Ehnes's bowing technique is preternaturally smooth as he weaves musical magic... One couldn't ask for a finer interpretation of the solo part... A special treat is Mendelssohn's gorgeous Octet, where Ehnes blends in perfectly with the elegant playing of seven members of the Seattle Chamber Music Society."
(Toronto Star, 29 November 2010)

"If I were to try to make a music-lover of someone, I think I would put this recording under his Christmas tree. The clarity, directness, and natural elegance of James Ehnes are so in line with the Mendelssohn concerto that it seems like a simple and obvious fit."
(ClassicsToday France, November 2010)








 



Nicolò Paganini (1782-1840)

OPERA 1
[1] Caprice No. 1 in E: Andante
[2] Caprice No. 2 in B minor: Moderato
[3] Caprice No. 3 in E minor: Sostenuto – Presto
[4] Caprice No. 4 in C minor: Maestoso
[5] Caprice No. 5 in A minor: Agitato
[6] Caprice No. 6 in G minor: Lento

OPERA 2
[7] Caprice No. 7 in A minor: Posato
[8] Caprice No. 8 in E flat: Maestoso
[9] Caprice No. 9 in E: Allegretto
[10] Caprice No. 10 in G minor: Vivace
[11] Caprice No. 11 in C: Andante – Presto
[12] Caprice No. 12 in A flat: Allegro
OPERA 3
[13] Caprice No. 13 in B flat: Allegro
[14] Caprice No. 14 in E flat: Moderato
[15] Caprice No. 15 in E minor: Posato
[16] Caprice No. 16 in G minor: Presto
[17] Caprice No. 17 in E flat: Sostenuto – Andante
[18] Caprice No. 18 in C: Corrente – Allegro
[19] Caprice No. 19 in E flat: Lento – Allegro assai
[20] Caprice No. 20 in D: Allegretto
[21] Caprice No. 21 in A: Amorosa – Presto
[22] Caprice No. 22 in F: Marcato
[23] Caprice No. 23 in E flat: Posato
[24] Caprice No. 24 in A: Tema con variazioni. Quasi presto


James Ehnes returns to the repertoire that launched his recording career with a new recording of Paganini’s 24 Caprices, widely considered to be one of the most influential works in musical history.

Of this new recording, James Ehnes says, “For almost 200 years, musicians have been inspired by Paganini and his legacy. Violinists still consider his 24 Caprices to be the ultimate document of violinistic virtuosity. Liszt, Chopin, Schumann, Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Dallapiccola, Lutoslawski, and Andrew Lloyd Webber, among many others, have been sufficiently inspired by these dazzling works to use their themes as the base for their own compositions. Surely there can be no greater testament to the profound and lasting greatness of these amazing works. I am delighted to have the opportunity to record the 24 Caprices for a second time.”





“[Ehnes] repeats the feat and confirms the predictions of Erick Friedman, eminent student of Heifetz: “there is only one like him born every hundred years”. While with his first version we were impressed by his breathtaking fluidity and his impetuosity, this recording is another step in this quest for perfection. Perfect intonation, (absolute pitch in the octaves and tenths), like the articulation, (irreproachable balance in the staccato-like trills, clean pizzicatos with the left hand) evokes the same admiration as the legendary version of Michel Rabin (1958).”
CHOC D’OR (Diapason, January 2010)

“James Ehnes doesn’t just deliver a series of violin pyrotechnics – under his fingers, each ‘caprice’ becomes a unique musical moment. He has given the listener a version of great maturity. James Ehnes holds true to the musicality. Fluidity and personality dominate here. Under his fingers, nothing betrays the technical difficulty, everything breathes openly in Caprice no. 5 with its torturous ricochets, or even more Caprice no. 21 with its formidable sixths.”
(Classica, February 2010)

“James Ehnes delivers a revelatory recording of Paganini's devilish 24 Caprices.....Ehnes is my clear recommendation. He really is a top-class violinist, and it's a joy to hear such difficult pieces sounding so completely comfortable and unfettered.”
DISC OF THE MONTH (Gramophone, January 2010)

“[Ehnes] revisits the score in an equally superb performance. It is a very literal view that encompasses the prodigious demands with such apparent ease that we are almost persuaded that the pieces are that challenging after all. Pages of double-stopping hold no fear for Ehnes, his bow dances over strings with utter precision and his left hand is seemingly incapable of creating a note of questionable intonation.”
(The Strad, January 2010)

“Ehnes has returned to these coruscating ‘finger-breakers’, playing with the same glowing tonal finesse as before, but with a new lyrical intensity that gives each piece its own special sense of musical indentity. Beguilingly played and expertly engineered, this deserves a place on anyone’s shortlist of the Caprices.”
(BBC Music Magazine, December 2009)

“He revisits [the 24 Caprices] with the experience of more than a decade, with new subtleties, fire, honed energy and a mature insight into the way Paganini could captivate his audiences not merely with acrobatic feats but also with a liquid lyricism and a spectrum of dynamic shadings that gave you his playing heart-stopping eloquence. This is a wonderful set that shows Paganini and Ehnes as masters of both technique and expression.”
CD OF THE WEEK (Daily Telegraph, October 17, 2009)

"This CD contains some of the most jaw-droppingly breath-taking violinistic fireworks you are ever likely to hear...for sustained listening and a greater sense of the music as an organic whole I find Ehnes to be without equal. A marvellous, amazing, stunning, spectacular, fabulous, awe-inspiring, fabulous - only half-way through the Microsoft office thesaurus but I'll leave out cool and groovy - piece of music-making."
CD OF THE MONTH (MusicWeb International, November 2009)

“No collection of virtuoso showpieces demands greater technical prowess than Paganini’s 24 Caprices. Yet James Ehnes, whose artistry suggests that in Paganini’s age he would have enjoyed similar stature to the great man, succeeds impressively in being more than merely thrilling. He realises that, extravagant though some of the music’s gestures are, this is not simply a high-wire act. It’s playing of phenomenal control, allied to musicianship of the highest order.”
(The Times, October 2009)








 



CD 1 – Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy and Camille Saint-Saëns

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

[1] Tzigane
[2] Berceuse sur le nom de Gabriel Fauré

Sonata for Violin and Piano in G Major
[3] Allegretto
[4] Blues
[5] Perpetuum mobile

Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

Sonata for Violin and Piano in G minor
[6] Allegro vivo
[7] Intermède
[8] Finale

Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)

Sonata for Violin & Piano No. 1 in D minor
[9] Allegro agitato
[10] Adagio
[11] Allegretto moderato
[12] Allegro molto

CD 2 – Henryk Wieniawski and Pablo De Sarasate

Henryk Wieniawski (1835-1880)

[1] Polonaise brillante No. 2 in A, Op. 21
[2] Polonaise No. 1 in D, Op. 4
[3] Mazurka (Obertass), Op. 19 No. 1
[4] Scherzo-Tarantelle, Op. 16
[5] Variations on an original theme, Op. 15

Pablo De Sarasate (1844-1908)

Spanish Dances, Op. 21
[6] Malagueña, Op. 21 No. 1
[7] Habañera, Op. 21 No. 2

Spanish Dances, Op. 22
[8] Romanza andaluza, Op. 22 No. 3
[9] Jota Navarra Op. 22 No. 2

Spanish Dances, Op. 23
[10] Playera, Op. 23 No. 1
[11] Zapateado, Op. 23 No. 2
[12] Introduction and Tarantella


Reissue of:
Wieniawski & Sarasate: James Ehnes, violin, and Eduard Laurel, piano (MVCD 1168)
Ravel, Debussy & Saint-Saëns: James Ehnes, violin, and Wendy Chen, piano (MVCD 1138)





James Ehnes is almost without question the finest violinist of his generation, and as his career grows and he adds maturity to his immense talent, will surely soon rank as one of the greatest in history. Possessed of a flawless technique (British violinist Jack Liebeck once told me that his playing was “bulletproof”) and peerless musicality, Ehnes has a remarkable ability to shift from style to style with complete ease and facility. Whether playing big romantic concertos with the world’s finest orchestras or in this recital with piano, Ehnes is totally in his element, pulling off challenge after challenge with utter ease, poise and control. In this combination of French masterpieces and Spanish fluff, Ehnes shows off both his serious side and his penchant for flashy showmanship. He pulls both off with aplomb and good taste.
(MusicWeb International, September 2009)

For reviews of the individual releases, please visit their tabs








 



Track & Composer

[1] Antonio Bazzini
[2] Manuel de Falla
[3] Manuel de Falla
[4] Manuel de Falla
[5] Manuel de Falla
[6] Manuel de Falla
[7] Manuel de Falla
[8] Edward Elgar
[9] Cyril Scott
[10] Grigoras Dinicu
[11] Maurice Ravel
[12] Henryk Wieniawski
[13] Jean Sibelius
[14] Moritz Moszkowski
[15] Edward Elgar
[16] Fritz Kreisler
[17] Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
[18] Manuel de Falla
[19] Ralph Vaughan Williams
[20] Arthur Benjamin
[21] Félicien David
[22] Max Bruch
[23] Max Bruch
[24] Max Bruch
[25] Max Bruch
[26] Max Bruch
[27] Max Bruch
[28] Max Bruch
[29] Max Bruch
[30] Max Bruch
[31] Hector Berlioz
[32] Hector Berlioz
[33] Hector Berlioz


Selection & Instrument Featured

La Ronde des Lutins: played on Antonio Stradivari, 1715 'Marsick'
Suite populaire espagnole (arr. Kochanski) I. El paño moruno: played on Antonio Stradivari, 1715 'Marsick'
Suite populaire espagnole (arr. Kochanski) II. Nana: played on Antonio Stradivari, 1715 'Marsick'
Suite populaire espagnole (arr. Kochanski) III. Canción: played on Antonio Stradivari, 1715 'Marsick'
Suite populaire espagnole (arr. Kochanski) IV. Polo: played on Antonio Stradivari, 1715 'Marsick'
Suite populaire espagnole (arr. Kochanski) V. Asturiana: played on Antonio Stradivari, 1715 'Marsick'
Suite populaire espagnole (arr. Kochanski) VI. Jota: played on Antonio Stradivari, 1715 'Marsick'
La Capricieuse: played on Pietro Guarneri Peter of Mantua, 1698 'Shapiro'
Lotus Land: played on Giuseppe Guarneri 'del Gesù', 1737 'King Joseph'
Hora staccato: played on Antonio Stradivari, 1713 'Baron d'Assgnies'
Pièce en forme de Habanera: played on Antonio Stradivari, 1715 'Marsick'
Étude-Caprice, Op.18 No.4: played on Pietro Guarneri Peter of Mantua, 1698 'Shapiro'
Mazurka, Op.81 No.1: played on Antonio Stradivari, 1719 'Duke of Alba'
Guitarre: played on Antonio Stradivari, 1713 'Baron d'Assignies'
Salut d'amour: played on Antonio Stradivari, 1709 'La Pucelle'
Chanson Louis XIII And Pavane: played on Antonio Stradivari, 1733 'Sassoon'
Melody, Op.42 No.3: played on Giuseppe Guarneri 'del Gesù', 1742 'Lord Wilton'
Danse espagnole: played on Antonio Stradivari, 1715 'Baron Knoop'
Fantasia on 'Greensleeves': played on Gasparo Bertolotti Gasparo da Salò, ca. 1560
Jamaican Rumba: played on Giuseppe Guadagnini, 1793 'Rolla'
La Nuit: played on Andrea Guarneri, 1676 'Count Vitale, ex Landau'
Scottish Fantasy (excerpt): played on Pietro Guarneri, Peter of Mantua
Scottish Fantasy (excerpt): played on Antonio Stradivari, 1709 'La Pucelle'
Scottish Fantasy (excerpt): played on Antonio Stradivari, 1713 'Baron d'Assignies'
Scottish Fantasy (excerpt): played on Antonio Stradivari, 1715 'Marsick'
Scottish Fantasy (excerpt): played on Antonio Stradivari, 1715 'Baron Knoop'
Scottish Fantasy (excerpt): played on Antonio Stradivari, 1719 'Duke of Alba'
Scottish Fantasy (excerpt): played on Antonio Stradivari, 1733 'Sassoon'
Scottish Fantasy (excerpt): played on Giuseppe Guarneri 'del Gesù', 1737 'King Joseph'
Scottish Fantasy (excerpt): played on Giuseppe Guarneri 'del Gesù', 1742 'Lord Wilton'
Harold in Italy (excerpt): played on Gasparo Bertolotti Gasparo da Salò, ca. 1560
Harold in Italy (excerpt): played on Andrea Guarneri, 1676 'Count Vitale, ex Landau'
Harold in Italy (excerpt): played on Giuseppe Guadagnini, 1793 'Rolla'




2009 JUNO AWARD

James Ehnes pays tribute to the world's most celebrated violin-makers with his CD & DVD, HOMAGE

This extraordinary project features performances on 12 of the greatest instruments ever made - by Antonio Stradivari, Pietro Guarneri (Peter of Mantua), Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, Andrea Guarneri, Giuseppe Guadagnini, and Gasparo Bertolotti (Gasparo da Salò), all belonging to the unique Fulton Collection. The project was recorded in April 2007 at the Fulton Performing Arts Centre in Redmond, Washington. James Ehnes performs 21 musical selections all carefully chosen to showcase each individual instrument.

On the DVD, in addition to the complete performances, James considers the eternal question - Strads vs Guarneris, discusses the importance of the right Bow for each instrument, his relationship with the Fulton Collection and the preparation for the recording sessions. As well, David Fulton talks about his passion for collecting these rare instruments.





“Another triumphant release from James Ehnes, who not only dispatches a programme of favourite violin and viola encores with a fizzing charm and charismatic bravado to rival even Itzhak Perlman, he does so on no fewer than 12 different instruments from the world-famous Fulton collection….this is a must-have for all music lovers.”
(BBC Music Magazine, March 2009)

“This multi-million dollar collection is stunningly recorded and photographed to furnish a handsomely presented historical document.”
(Gramophone, March 2009)

“To say that this is one of the most amazing recordings of violin music ever made doesn't even begin to do justice to what James Ehnes has accomplished here.”
(Toronto Star, October 2008)

View Homage Teaser below:












 



CD 1 - Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Sonata No. 1 - in B minor (BWV 1014)
[1] Adagio
[2] Allegro
[3] Andante
[4] Allegro

Sonata No. 2 in A major (BWV 1015)
[5] Dolce
[6] Allegro
[7] Andante un poco
[8] Presto

Sonata No. 3 in E major (BWV 1016)
[9] Adagio
[10] Allegro
[11] Adagio ma non tanto
[12] Allegro

Sonata No. 4 in C minor (BWV 1017)
[13] Largo
[14] Allegro
[15] Adagio
[16] Allegro


CD 2 - Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Sonata No. 5 in F Minor (BWV 1018)
[1] Adagio
[2] Allegro
[3] Adagio
[4] Vivace

Sonata No. 6 in G Major (BWV 1019)
[5] Allegro
[6] Largo
[7] Allegro (Cembalo Solo)
[8] Adagio
[9] Allegro

Sonata No. 6 in G Major (Appendix, BWV 1019a)
[10] Cantabile, ma un poco Adagio
[11] Cembalo solo
[12] Adagio
[13] Violino solo e Basso l'accompagnato

Sonata in G Major for violin and continuo (BWV 1021)
[14] Adagio
[15] Vivace
[16] Largo
[17] Presto

Sonata in E Minor for violin and continuo (BWV 1023)
[18] Allegro
[19] Adagio ma non tanto
[20] Allemanda
[21] Gigue




Reissue of:
Bach: Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord
vol.1 (AN 2 9829): 2006 JUNO Nominee, 2005 ADISQ Award Nominee, INDIES Award
vol. 2 (AN 2 9830): 2006 ADISQ Award

For reviews of the individual releases, please visit their tabs








 



CD 1 - Max Bruch (1838-1920)

Violin Concertos No. 1 & No. 3 with Charles Dutoit, conductor

Violin Concerto No. 1, in G minor, Op. 26
[1] Vorspiel: Allegro moderato
[2] Adagio
[3] Finale: Allegro energico

Violin Concerto No. 3, in D minor, Op. 58
[4] Allegro energico
[5] Adagio
[6] Allegro molto

CD 2 - Max Bruch (1838-1920)

Scottish Fantasy & Violin Concerto No. 2 with Mario Bernardi, conductor

Scottish Fantasy, Op. 46
[1] Prelude: Grave
[2] Adagio cantabile
[3] Allegro - Adagio
[4] Andante sostenuto
[5] Finale: Allegro guerriero

Violin Concerto No. 2, in D minor, Op. 44
[6] Adagio ma non troppo
[7] Recitativo: Allegro moderato
[8] Finale: Allegro molto



Reissue of:
Bruch Concertos No. 1 & 3 (SMCD 5207): 2002 JUNO Award, 2002 Canadian Independent Music Award
Bruch Concerto No. 2 & Scottish Fantasy (SMCD 5222): 2003 JUNO Award, 2003 ADISQ Award

For reviews of the individual releases, please visit their tabs








 



Paul Schoenfield (b. 1947)

Four Parables For Piano And Orchestra
[1] I - Rambling Till The Butcher Cuts Us Down
[2] II - Senility's Ride
[3] III - Elegy
[4] IV - Dog Heaven

Four Souvenirs For Violin And Piano
[5] I - Samba
[6] II - Tango
[7] III - Tin Pan Alley
[8] IV - Square Dance

Cafe Music For Piano Trio
[9] I - Allegro
[10] II - Andante Moderato; Rubato
[11] III - Presto



James Ehnes rejoins pianist Andrew Russo for this recording that is part of Black Box’s series of American composer portraits. Inspired by popular styles both American and foreign, vernacular and folk traditions, Schoenfield’s compositions draw on elements of jazz and traditional music, combined with sly twists.





“...these four duets provide the two musicians with ample opportunity to let their hair down (were it not shorn so politely). They duly take this with glee. The performance is a romp, with both players successfully showing awareness of the need for flexibility and looseness in the sound. Ehnes, sounding variously like Stéphane Grappelli, Fritz Kreisler and, in the Tin Pan Alley stylings of the slow third movement, like a chorus girl singing lead, achieves a convincing pitch of abandon throughout. His rich double and triple stopping in the Habanera Tango of the second movement push the performance into a more focused intensity and verve, whilst his use of portamento (particularly at phrase endings) and vibrato is always finely judged.”
(Musical Criticism, 17 February 2008)








 



Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934)

Violin Concerto in B minor op.61
[1] I Allegro
[2] II Andante
[3] III Allegro molto

Serenade for strings, op. 20
[4] I Allegro piacevole
[5] II Larghetto
[6] III Allegretto



2008 GRAMOPHONE AWARD

2008 JUNO NOMINEE

This recording of Elgar’s much loved Violin Concerto was made live during concerts in London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on 17 and 20 May 2007 to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Edward Elgar’s birth.



"...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."
CLASSICAL CD of the WEEK (Daily Telegraph, 19 January 2008)

“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.” EDITOR’s CHOICE
(Gramophone, January 2008)

“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.” Featured Disc of the Month
(Classic FM, January 2008)








 



Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957)

Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35
[1] Moderato nobile
[2] Romance: Andante
[3] Finale: Allegro assai vivace

Samuel Barber (1910-1981)

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 14
[4] Allegro
[5] Andante
[6] Presto in moto perpetuo

William Walton (1902-1983)

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra
[4] Andante tranquillo
[5] Presto capriccioso alla napolitana
[6] Vivace



2008 GRAMMY AWARD

2008 JUNO AWARD

2007 WESTERN CANADIAN MUSIC AWARD

Considered an extraordinary release by critics and audiences around the world, James Ehnes’s recording of the violin concertos by Barber, Korngold and Walton with Bramwell Tovey and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra swept the award season, winning the 2008 GRAMMY Award, JUNO Award, and Western Canadian Music Award.

The recording is available in Canada and US on the CBC Records label and worldwide on the Onyx Classics label.



One of the "100 CDs You Must Own" and “My Pick of 2007”
Classic FM's David Mellor

"In all three concertos, James Ehnes proves that he is one of today's most talented violinists. His tone soars and sings like a human voice -- this is violin playing of the highest class. He brings out the nostalgic, hyper-emotional melodies of the Korngold without straying into over-sentimentality, as well as the often cheeky virtuoso brilliance of Walton's concerto with equal aplomb. His innate sense of rhythm and timing, and spot-on intonation almost make you forget he's playing an instrument, so clear and direct is his expression of the music."
Classic FM's David Mellor

"James Ehnes gives superb performances, bringing out their full emotional thrust without vulgarity or exaggeration. His playing has always been impressive on disc, but here he excels himself in expressive range as well as the tonal beauty, with expressive rubato perfectly controlled. An outstanding disc in every way."
(Gramophone February 2007)

"James Ehnes is the finest violinist of his generation and these superb concerto recordings are all the proof I need to make that statement. Lush tone, flawless technique and personality to burn make this one of the finest recordings of the year."
(WRR, December 2006)

"All three composers tested a soloist's virtuosity, particularly Samuel Barber in the "presto in moto perpetuo" that forms the short but fiendish finale to his concerto; nor was Walton any slouch in the demands he made in the "presto capriccioso alla napolitana" at the centre of the concerto that he wrote on the Amalfi coast. Mediterranean warmth as well as caprice radiates from Ehnes's performance, and in the other two concertos he gets right to the heart of the music's temperament, nostalgic but with spirited uplift as well. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra does him proud in establishing vibrant, complementary support. This is a must-have disc."
(Daily Telegraph, 11 November 2006) *CD of the Week*








 



Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Sonata No. 5 in F Minor (BWV 1018)
[1] Adagio
[2] Allegro
[3] Adagio
[4] Vivace

Sonata No. 6 in G Major (BWV 1019)
[5] Allegro
[6] Largo
[7] Allegro (Cembalo Solo)
[8] Adagio
[9] Allegro

Sonata No. 6 in G Major (Appendix, BWV 1019a)
[10] Cantabile, ma un poco Adagio
[11] Cembalo solo
[12] Adagio
[13] Violino solo e Basso l'accompagnato

Sonata in G Major for violin and continuo (BWV 1021)
[14] Adagio
[15] Vivace
[16] Largo
[17] Presto

Sonata in E Minor for violin and continuo (BWV 1023)
[18] Allegro
[19] Adagio ma non tanto
[20] Allemanda
[21] Gigue




2006 ADISQ AWARD

Reissued by Analekta in 2008 (AN 2 2016-7) as part of a 2 CD set of Bach’s Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord





“James Ehnes gives a most urbane and refined account… The music is simply allowed to speak for itself and does so gently yet powerfully. I found myself becoming more enamoured with successive listening. The interplay and tonal balance with the harpsichord and later, the cello in the continuo sonatas, is particularly elegant.”
(Stringendo, April 2007)

“The performances abound with beauty, intelligence, and expressivity. Take, for example, the F minor sonata's Adagio. The violin part mainly consists of slow-moving chords, surrounded by faster-moving harpsichord lines that alternate between hands. Many violinists pay no attention to the chords' underlying melody, yet Ehnes not only brings it out but also makes it come alive in a vibrant dialogue with the harpsichord. This cycle, along with the Sonatas and Partitas, ensures James Ehnes' standing as one of the great Bach violinists of our time, or any time for that matter.”
(ClassicsToday 10/10, April 2006)








 



CD 1 - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Concerto No. 1 in B Flat Major, K. 207
[1] Allegro moderato
[2] Adagio
[3] Presto

Concerto No. 2 in D Major, K. 211
[4] Allegro energico
[5] Adagio
[6] Rondeau - Allegro

[7] Adagio in E Major, K. 261
[8] Rondo in B flat major, K. 269: Rondo in B flat major, K. 269: Allegro
[9] Rondo in C major, K. 373: Rondo in C major, K. 373: Allegretto grazioso

CD 2 - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Concerto No. 3 in G Major, K. 216
[1] Allegro
[2] Adagio
[3] Rondeau- Allegro

Concerto No. 4 in D Major, K. 218
[6] Allegro
[7] Andante cantabile
[8] Rondeau – Andante grazioso

Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 219
[6] Allegro aperto
[7] Adagio
[8] Rondeau – Tempo di Menuetto



2007 JUNO AWARD

As a tribute to the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth (which just happens to coincide with his own 30th birthday!), James Ehnes has recorded Mozart's complete output for solo violin and orchestra. The five Violin Concertos and three single movement works will be released worldwide on January 17, 2006.

“The idea behind this recording was conceived several years ago. I happen to share a birthday with Mozart - January 27th - and it struck me that my 30th birthday, in 2006, would coincide with Mozart's 250th. I had always hoped to record Mozart's violin concertos, so it seemed natural to celebrate both Mozart's birthday and my own with a recording of these works. While I have been fortunate to have had the pleasure of playing Mozart with many great conductors, I decided that for this recording I wanted to lead these pieces myself. In the fall of 2003, I had a discussion with my good friends Jonathan Crow and Molly Read regarding orchestras with which I could possibly record. They suggested that the ideal orchestra for this project would be one that I would form myself, an "all-star" ensemble made up of some of my favourite players from around the globe.” --James Ehnes

MOZART ANNIVERSARY ORCHESTRA

First Violins

Jonathan Crow
Amy Schwartz Moretti
Ramsey Husser
Terence Tam
Peter McGuire
Karl Stobbe

Second Violins

Donnie Deacon
David Brubaker
Renée-Paule Gauthier
Clinton Dewing
Daniel Han

Violas

Neal Gripp
Barry Shiffman
Sharon Wei
Theresa Rudolph

Cellos

Robert deMaine
Kari Jane Docter
Molly Read
Sylvain Murray

Double Basses

Joel Quarrington
Raphael McNabney

Oboes

Sarah Jeffrey
Kirsten Zander

French Horns

Christopher Gongos
Gabriel Radford

Flutes

Nora Shulman
Leonie Wall



“In Mozart his manner of playing is ideally adapted to the gracefulness demanded, say, by the singing solo line of the andante in the D major Concerto K211 or the lovely Adagio K261. He wears his virtuosity lightly, whether in his own tasteful, exploratory cadenzas or in the nimble passage-work elsewhere, bringing to these performances a compelling poise, sensibility and malleability of tone. This is a must-have set."
CLASSICAL CD OF THE WEEK (Daily Telegraph, 12 August 2006)

"James Ehnes's vital, elegant, beautifully proportioned playing of all five concertos. Still barely 30, the Canadian violinist here reinforces his credentials as one of the most brilliant and discerning players of his generation, with a sweet, gleaming tone and a purity of intonation that are second to none."
(Gramophone, July 2006)

"By any standards a superb series of performances of Mozart's violin concertos. [His] playing is warm and expressive without a hint of preciousness, and effortlessly musical throughout. His ensemble is made up of some of his friends and colleagues from various Canadian and American orchestras, but the players sound as though they have been making music together for years."
ORCHESTRAL CD OF THE MONTH *5 STARS* (BBC Music Magazine, June 2006)

"From the opening bars of the earliest of Mozart's five concertos (K207 from 1773), you know you're in for a treat with sparking tempi, buoyant rhythms throughout and a soloist whose unerring expressive and technical ability puts a spring in your step. In addition to the concertos are the Adagio (K219) and two Rondos (K269 and K373) making this release a clear first choice in the field." *5 STARS*
(Classic FM, May 2006)

"The young Canadian James Ehnes follows the glamorous German virtuosa Anne-Sophie Mutter, but his accounts of these beloved works...are more rewarding. Ehnes offers modern-instrument Mozart, enlivened by brisk tempi, expressive nuance and an infectious joie de vivre demanded by the exuberant fast movements, especially the whirling dervish-like "Turkish" music of the A major's finale (No 5). ...these are beautifully thought-out and rewarding performances."
CLASSICAL CD OF THE WEEK (Sunday Times, 19 March 2006)








 



John Adams (b. 1947)

[1] Phrygian Gates for solo piano (1977)
[2] Hallelujah Junction for two pianos (1996)
[3] China Gates for solo piano (1977)

Road Movies for violin and piano (1995)
[4] I – relaxed groove
[5] II – meditative
[6] III – 40% swing





“Violinist Ehnes shows deft versatility by also taking the second piano part in Hallelujah Junction, and the two men throw Adams' keyboard riffs back and forth with immense panache.”
(Florida Sun-Sentinel, October 2005)

“Russo sets the persistent rhythmic pulse and really gets into the groove [of Road Movies], while Ehnes (now on the violin) craftily fleshes out the abrupt melodies and spiky harmonies. Even without an orchestra, Adams proves he can write a good ending, closing the piece with one of his exciting rhythmic flourishes. The recording sets the performers in a lively acoustic, making this a most enjoyable disc for Adams fans.”
(ClassicsToday, May 2005)

“Russo and Ehnes offer a fine account of Hallelujah Junction (1996), with Ehnes here demonstrating his considerable skills as a pianist. The tintinnabular clangour of the opening section is marvellous, for example.”
(Gramophone, August 2005)








 



Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)

Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 33 (B 63) (1876) in G minor
[1] I - Allegro agitato - Poco tranquillo - Tempo I
[2] II - Andante sostenuto
[3] III - Finale. Allegro con fuoco - Poco sostenuto

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 53 (B 96) (1879, revised 1882-83) in A minor
[4] I - Allegro ma non troppo - Poco meno mosso
[5] II - Adagio ma non troppo - Poco più mosso
[6] III - Finale. Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo





“James Ehnes’s golden-toned, impassioned brilliance proves every bit as effective in the Violin Concerto. This is where Ehnes really comes into his own, deftly inflecting the music with a virtuoso confidence and sheer panache that recalls Itzhak Perlman in his prime.”
(Classic FM, August 2005)

“James Ehnes gives a strong, incisive performance…with the furiant finale bitingly fresh. His rapid vibrato gives a distinctive timbre to his playing.”
(Gramophone, July 2005)

“the performance is undeniably effective, just as Ehnes's perfectly centred, intensely musical violin playing demands attention…”
(Guardian, 1 July 2005)








 



Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Sonata No. 1 in B minor (BWV 1014)
[1] Adagio
[2] Allegro
[3] Andante
[4] Allegro

Sonata No. 2 in A major (BWV 1015)
[5] Dolce
[6] Allegro
[7] Andante un poco
[8] Presto

Sonata No. 3 in E major (BWV 1016)
[9] Adagio
[10] Allegro
[11] Adagio ma non tanto
[12] Allegro

Sonata No. 4 in C minor (BWV 1017)
[13] Largo
[14] Allegro
[15] Adagio
[16] Allegro




2006 JUNO NOMINEE

2005 ADISQ AWARD NOMINEE

2006 INDIES AWARD

Reissued by Analekta in 2008 (AN 2 2016-7) as part of a 2 CD set of Bach’s Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord





"James Ehnes has already made a number of outstanding recordings, but this may be his finest yet. It will come as no surprise to his growing band of admirers that technically and internationally these performances are utterly blemish less, without the slightest sense of strain...Ehnes’s golden tone is seamlessly sustained throughout the register and his use of vibrato exquisitely subtle, based around an extremely narrow medium pace, absolutely ideal for music of this period…”
(International Record Review, June 2005)

“Like the great Belgian player, Ehnes commands a beguilingly sweet, singing tone and adopts an unashamedly expressive approach to the adagios, andantes and largos of the four sonatas. The allegros and prestos have an irresistible élan and momentum. Highly recommended.”
(Sunday Times, 29 May 2005)

“Ehnes, of course, carries the tunes, and he makes his Strad sound like a soprano with musical heart and the most exquisite cantabile phrasing. He also eschews Romantic colouration in favour a clear, restrained tonality devoid of vibrato that is especially effective when the music is pulling him forward.”
(Edmonton Journal, 4 June 2005)

“James Ehnes seems incapable of making a recording that is anything less than first-class.... As before, Ehnes' polished musicianship is particularly well suited to this repertoire. His fluid playing, light articulation and elegant decoration are delightful, with his sweet burnished tone bringing out the lyric freshness in slow movements without sacrificing Baroque.”
(Sun Sentinel, 6 May 2005)








 



Luigi Dallapiccola (1904-1975)

Tartiniana (1951) Divertimento for Violin and Orchestra
[1] Larghetto; molto espressivo, ma semplice
[2] Allegro misurato
[3] Molto sostenuto (Tempo I) - Più mosso e scorrevole, ma sempe serioso (Tempo II)
[4] Allegro assai, ma non precipitato - (À la musette)

Due Pezzi (1946-1947) for Orchestra
[5] Sarabanda. Lento; flessibile
[6] Fanfare e Fuga. Mosso, ma non tanto (deciso)

Piccola Musica Notturna (1954)
[7] Molto tranquillo, ma senza trascinare

Frammenti Sinfonici dal Balletto 'Marsia'
[8] Danza Magica. Calmo, molto flessibile
[9] Ostinato. Presto - Poco moderato
[10] Sostenuto, ma deciso (Recitando)
[11] Ultima Danza di Marsia. Andante lento
[12] La Morete di Marsia. Non troppo lento

Variazioni per Orchestra (1953-54)
[13] I. Quasi lento, misterioso
[14] II. Allegro; con fuoco
[15] III. Mosso; scorrevole
[16] IV. Tranquillamente mosso
[17] V. Poco allegretto; 'alla Serenata'
[18] VI. Molto lento; con espressione parlante
[19] VII. Andantino amoroso
[20] VIII. Allegro; con violenza
[21] IX. Affettuoso; cullante
[22] X. Grave - Ancora più lento; misterioso
[23] XI. Molto lento; fantastic




This was recorded in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Luigi Dallapiccola.





“This is a well-performed CD in excellent sound, particularly welcome at the time of the composer's centenary.”
(Gramophone, December 2004)

“The playing is superb – by both the soloist and the orchestra. This is a beautiful, committed and stunning performance. For all enthusiasts of lyrical (almost romantic) twelve tone music it is a ‘must have.’ For those who may have doubts about buying this CD because it is ‘serial’, be prepared to take a tiny risk – you will not be disappointed. I cannot praise this CD too highly.”
(MusicWeb International, November 2004)

“It's good to have these rare items played by a first-class orchestra, and finely recorded. James Ehnes is an eloquent soloist… and Gianandrea Noseda's affection for the music is evident throughout."
(BBC Music Magazine, December 2004)








 



Bedrich Smetana (1824-1884)

From the Homeland, Two Pieces for Violin and Piano
[1] I Moderato
[2] II Andantino moderato e Allegro vivo

Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)

Romantic Pieces, Op.75, for Violin and Piano
[3] I Allegro moderato
[4] II Allegro maestoso
[5] III Allegro appassionato
[6] IV Larghetto

Sonatina in G major for Violin and Piano, Op.100 B183
[7] I Allegro risoluto
[8] II Larghetto – poco piu mosso – meno mosso, Tempo I
[9] III Scherzo molto vivace - Trio
[10] IV Finale Allegro – Molto tranquillo, Tempo 1

Leoš Janáček (1854-1928)

Sonata for Violin and Piano
[11] I Con moto
[12] II Ballada (Con moto)
[13] III Allegretto
[14] IV Adagio

Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)

[15] Humoresque Op.101 No. 8 (James Ehnes, piano)




2004 ADISQ AWARD for ALBUM OF THE YEAR

2005 JUNO NOMINEE





“Ehnes and his pianist [give] performances which bring out the most winning qualities of each work with rare understanding.”
(Gramophone, August 2004)

"Another out-and-out winner."
(London Daily Telegraph, March 27, 2004)

"With this latest recording, James Ehnes proves that he possesses everything to become one of the greatest violinists of the 21st century."
(Classica, April 2004)

“Ehnes is a world-class violinist and he proves it once again with intense, character, and technically flawless renditions of these Czech gems. This is another solid effort by a violinist about whom years from now listeners will be saying, "Oh yes, I remember when he was just starting out, and I knew he'd be one of the greats. . ."
(Classics Today, April 2004)

“Perfect in all technical particulars, the Canadian James Ehnes nicely gauges the incisive attacks and warm interludes of respite in this last item (Janacek’s Sonata). Write this recording as a candidate for next year’s Junos.”
(Montreal Gazette, 19 February 2004)

“And here’s yet another notch in the belt of James Ehnes. With every new recording, he shows his versatility and range. Once again, Ehnes seems completely comfortable. His control, patience and maturity are really well beyond his years. Five out of five.”
(Sound Advice, CBC Radio, 21 February 2004)








 



Ernst von Dohnányi (1877-1960)

Violin Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 43 To Frances Magnes
[1] I. Allegro molto moderato
[2] II. Intermezzo. Allegro comodo e scherzando
[3] III. Adagio molto sostenuto
[4] IV. Allegro risoluto e giocoso

Concertino for harp and chamber orchestra, Op. 45
[5] Andante - Allegro ma non troppo
[6] Allegretto vivace - Più mosso
[7] Adagio non troppo

Piano Concerto No. 2 in B minor, Op. 42
[8] I. Allegro - Legato - Animato
[9] II. Adagio, poco rubato
[10] III. Allegro vivace - Più mosso - A tempo






“James Ehnes characteristically blends sensitivity, warmth and spirit in the Violin Concerto.”
(Daily Telegraph, October 18, 2004)

“This was my first exposure to the playing of the young Canadian violinist James Ehnes, but I’m confident it will not be my last. A 1997 Juilliard graduate, Ehnes has already accumulated an impressive list of performances and a sizeable discography; this past May he was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant. It doesn’t take long to hear what all the fuss is about. Ehnes’s playing is expressive without lapsing into self-indulgence (think of some other young violinists who have landed recording contracts over the last decade or two), his bow arm and vibrato are beautifully controlled, and his intonation dead-on. Bamert, his BBC forces, and Chandos do their usual splendid job.”
(October 2005)

“[The Violin Concerto] is given an irresistible performance by James Ehnes.”
(Manchester Evening News, October 1, 2004)








 



Henryk Wieniawski (1835-1880)

[1] Polonaise brillante No. 2 in A, Op. 21
[2] Polonaise No. 1 in D, Op. 4
[3] Mazurka (Obertass), Op. 19 No. 1
[4] Scherzo-Tarantelle, Op. 16
[5] Variations on an original theme, Op. 15

Pablo De Sarasate (1844-1908)

Spanish Dances, Op. 21
[6] Malagueña, Op. 21 No. 1
[7] Habañera, Op. 21 No. 2

Spanish Dances, Op. 22
[8] Romanza andaluza, Op. 22 No. 3
[9] Jota Navarra Op. 22 No. 2

Spanish Dances, Op. 23
[10] Playera, Op. 23 No. 1
[11] Zapateado, Op. 23 No. 2
[12] Introduction and Tarantella


Reissued by CBC Records in 2009 (MVCD 1177-2) as part of a 2 CD set called James Ehnes In Recital





“Ehnes enters Perlman territory once again with a programme that in terms of its imperious technical assurance and bravado swagger is the equal of almost anything recorded since Michael Rabin's early-1960s heyday. Throughout Ehnes produces a fabulously sensual sound, seamless legato and miraculous coordination which he has the effrontery to make sound effortless. There are times when his amazingly assured mechanism makes these wrist-breakers sound almost playable.”
(Strad, January 2005)

“James Ehnes is among the most technically accomplished violinists anywhere. He’s the Fritz Kreisler of our time. Listeners will thrill when they hear the brilliance and clarity of the playing. People who have ever played a string instrument will want a supply of duct tape to keep their jaws from dropping to the floor.”
(Ottawa Citizen, October 23, 2004)

“Ehnes tosses off, with the seeming effortlessness that is critical to a convincing performance of this music, piece after virtuoso piece.”
(Toronto Star, October 7, 2004)

“Performed in an impeccable manner…brilliantly. …it is undeniably another triumph.”
(Le Devoir, October 2, 2004)








 



Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837)

Potpourri (mit Fantasie) for viola and orchestra in G minor, Op. 94
[1] Grave - Andante con moto - Allegro con brio

Adagio and Rondo alla Polacca for violin and orchestra in A major
[2] Adago con moto
[3] Rondo alla Polacca

Variations on a theme from the Berlin 'Singspiel' Das Fest der Handwerker', Op. 115
Edited by Stephen Hogger and Howard Shelley
[4] Larghetto
[5] Allegretto - Larghetto
[6] Finale. Vivace

Violin Concerto in G major
[7] I. Allegro risoluto - Rallantando
[8] II. Adagio
[9] III. Rondo



2005 JUNO NOMINEE




“A whole disc of discoveries, all of them worth making.”
(Toronto Star, October 7, 2004)

“His rich, mellow viola tone and singing line are perfect for the Potpourri (mit Fantasie). Here, and in the concerto and the Adagio and Rondo alla Polacca for violin, Ehnes's musicality and expressive refinement are matched by the discreet pointing of orchestral detail to create performances of sheer delight.”
(Daily Telegraph, August 30, 2004)

“The most interesting of the four is precisely the one where Ehnes plays the viola - the Potpourri op. 94. Ehnes shows a great facility with the instrument and produces a beautiful deep sonority, which is not always the case when violinists decide, suddenly, to move to the “contralto” of the string family.”
(La Presse, September 25, 2004)








 



Robert Schumann (1810-1856)

Piano Quintet in E flat major, Op. 44
[1] Allegro Brillante
[2] In Modo d'una Marcia. Un Poco Largamente
[3] Scherzo: Molto Vivace
[4] Allegro, Ma Non Troppo

Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)

Piano Quintet No. 2 in C minor, Op. 115
[5] Allegro Moderato
[6] Allegro Vivo
[7] Andante Moderato
[8] Allegro Molto



NOTE: This release is not available in North America




“I had the impression of an ensemble whose members are absolutely happy with each other: again, the give-and-take is wholly natural, and they make sense of Schumann’s dynamic markings, scrupulously followed.”
(Gramophone, May 2004)








 



Max Bruch (1838-1920)

Scottish Fantasy & Violin Concerto No. 2 with Mario Bernardi, conductor

Scottish Fantasy, Op. 46
[1] Prelude: Grave
[2] Adagio cantabile
[3] Allegro - Adagio
[4] Andante sostenuto
[5] Finale: Allegro guerriero

Violin Concerto No. 2, in D minor, Op. 44
[6] Adagio ma non troppo
[7] Recitativo: Allegro moderato
[8] Finale: Allegro molto



2003 JUNO AWARD Best Classical Album Orchestral

2003 ADISQ AWARD for Album of the Year

Reissued by CBC Records in 2008 (SMCD 5245-2) as part of a 2 CD set called James Ehnes | Max Bruch



“James Ehnes makes the most gloriously full-throated sound throughout, varying his vibrato from an ear-pricking white sound that sends the instrument’s natural resonances ringing, to a soaring intensity in the higher reaches of all four strings. There are times when his inimitable sense of timing and subtle use of portamento reminds one of Rabin in his heyday: praise indeed!”
(Strad, May 2003)

“Ehnes brings out the rapt cantabile writing beautifully, and he's blessed with a crystal-clear top end; indeed it's difficult to imagine it played better, even from Penman or Heifetz, whose classic accounts clearly stand at the top of the list.”
(American Record Guide, March/April 2003)

“James Ehnes has…[a] beautiful, strong sound, accurate technique and generous, imaginative musicianship.”
(BBC Music Magazine, March 2003)

“Ehnes here confirms his stature as an artist of refined sensibility, with a musicianship to match his technical control and tonal allure.”
(Daily Telegraph, March 15, 2003)

“The young Canadian virtuoso is note-perfect throughout, executing the tricky double-stop passages…with ridiculous ease. There’s no finer account of the Bruch oeuvre for violin and orchestra than the Ehnes/MSO collaboration.” *****
(Opus, Spring 2003)








 



Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962)

[1] Variations on a theme of Corelli in the style of Giuseppe Tartini

Praeludium & Allegro, in the style of Gaetano Pugnani
[2] I Praeludium
[3] II Allegro

[4] La Précieuse, in the style of Louis Couperin

Sicilienne & Rigaudon, in the style of François Francoeur
[5] I Sicilienne
[6] II Rigaudon

The Devil’s Trill
[7] I Larghetto
[8] II Allegro energico
[9] III Grave – Allegro assai

[10] Caprice viennois
[11] Liebeslied
[12] Liebesfreud
[13] Schön Rosmarin
[14] Tambourin chinois
[15] Polichinelle
[16] Syncopation
[17] Toy Soldier`s March

Recitativo & Scherzo Caprice (for solo violin)
[18] I Recitativo
[19] II Scherzo

[20] Petite Valse (piano solo: James Ehnes)



2003 JUNO NOMINEE

2003 ADISQ AWARD NOMINEE




“An outstanding release. There is a warm seductiveness that colours his approach to many of the works. When technical fireworks are called for he even upstages the old master, intonation in the frequent passages of double-stopping being absolutely infallible. …his silvery tone proving a constant joy to the ear.”
(Strad, February 2003)

“As a violinist, the Canadian is top-of-the-range luxury goods: the sound he produces is ravishing, the intonation faultless, the articulation impeccable… The most satisfying Kreisler programme and modern performances currently available – and that includes those by Bell, Mintz and Kennedy.” 5 STARS
(BBC Music Magazine, January 2003)

“James Ehnes tackles these brilliant pieces by Kreisler with a moving lyricism. There is nothing mechanical about his playing, but a facility to arouse an incomparable nostalgia. He literally crushes the competition, however impressive (Perlman, for example)… this is the number one Kreisler recording in the current discography.”
(Répertoire, November 2002)

“Ehnes uses violinistic wizardry not simply to dazzle but to define a style of playing that has musicality as its paramount goal…accompanied with eloquent discretion by the pianist Eduard Laurel.”
(Daily Telegraph, 11 January 2003)








 



Max Bruch (1838-1920)

Violin Concertos No. 1 & No. 3 with Charles Dutoit, conductor

Violin Concerto No. 1, in G minor, Op. 26
[1] Vorspiel: Allegro moderato
[2] Adagio
[3] Finale: Allegro energico

Violin Concerto No. 3, in D minor, Op. 58
[4] Allegro energico
[5] Adagio
[6] Allegro molto



2002 JUNO AWARD Best Classical Album Orchestral

2002 Canadian Independent Music Award

Reissued by CBC Records in 2008 (SMCD 5245-2) as part of a 2 CD set called James Ehnes | Max Bruch





“In the G minor Concerto he is deeply reflective, treating it as far more than a virtuoso vehicle. Not that he lacks anything in brilliance, with the many double-stopped passages exceptionally clean and incisive.”
(Gramophone, September 2001)

“Ce plus beau son possible, il l’a.” (The « most beautiful sound in the world » he has it).
(Répertoire, July-August 2001)

“The combined efforts of the OSM and Ehnes are irresistible.”
(Strad, October 2001)

“Bruch’s first violin concerto is so often played, but Ehnes and the OSM make you feel like you never heard the work before. His playing penetrates its romantic efflorescence to its airy core.”
(Halifax Herald, 13 January 2002)








 



Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)

[1] Introduction et Rondo Capriccioso
[2] Havanaise

Hector Berlioz (1803-1869)

[3] Le Corsaire
[4] Rêverie et Caprice

Ernest Chausson (1855-1899)

[5] Poème

Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

[6] Tarantelle Styrienne

Darius Milhaud (1892-1974)

[7] Cinéma Fantaisie

Jules Massenet (1842-1912)

[8] Méditation



2002 ADISQ AWARD for Album of the Year

2002 JUNO NOMINEE




“Though warmly romantic in his playing, Ehnes with his bright, sweet, pure tone, is never soupy in a traditionally romantic way. Intonation is flawless with a clear, middle-of-the-note focus."
(Gramophone, July 2002)

"Ehnes...leaves us with a lovingly spun 'Meditation' from Thaïs, mildly doleful yet warmly reflective—a five minute tonic for the soul."
(The Observer, March 10, 2002)

“His playing, which seems to shatter all technical constraints, makes one listen to this recording with one simple feeling: sheer pleasure.”
(Répertoire July, 2001)

“James Ehnes has rightly taken his place among the world’s major virtuoso violinists, as this release proves. He plays with the last degree of refinement, his intonation is flawless, he commands one’s attention.”
(American Record Guide, May/June 2002)

“Those who have yet to encounter James Ehnes in action should hear this sensational disc without delay. He is one of the most exciting young talents to have emerged since Vadim Repin first hit the headlines over a decade ago. Like Repin, Ehnes produces the most outrageously seductive sound throughout the range and possesses the kind of effortless technique that has the listener forgetting that any potential difficulties even exist. Ehnes has no reason to fear even the most formidable of competition, whether it be Rabin and Szeryng in the Saint-Saëns showpieces, Perlman in the Berlioz, Ferras in the Chausson or Kremer in the Milhaud. The latter, in particular, is given a riotous performance, brimming over with vitality and charisma.”
(International Record Review, May 2002)








 



CD 1

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Sonata I in G minor (BWV 1001)
[1] Adagio
[2] Fuga: Allegro
[3] Siciliana
[4] Presto

Partita I in B minor (BWV 1002)
[5] Allemanda
[6] Double
[7] Corrente
[8] Double: Presto
[9] Sarabande
[10] Double
[11] Tempo di Borea
[12] Double

Sonata II in A minor (BWV 1003)
[13] Grave
[14] Fuga
[15] Andante
[16] Allegro


CD 2

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Partita II in D minor (BWV 1004)
[1] Allemanda
[2] Corrente
[3] Giga
[4] Vivace
[5] Ciaccona

Sonata III in C major (BWV 1005)
[6] Adagio
[7] Fuga
[8] Largo
[9] Allegro assai

Partita III in E major (BWV 1006)
[10] Preludio
[11] Loure
[12] Gavotte en Rondeau
[13] Menuet I
[14] Menuet II
[15] Bourée
[16] Gigue



2001 JUNO AWARD Best Classical Album Solo

2002 CANNES CLASSICAL AWARD for Young Artist of the Year




"All credit...to this young musician for performances which can stand comparison with the finest and...outshine some of them. Ehnes's mastery of his instrument is quite exceptional: his sound is lustrous, his intonation flawless, his stamina untiring... Above all, these are noble readings of a high seriousness – controlled, poised, totally untrammelled.
(BBC Music Magazine, Sept. 2001)

“Ehnes makes a simply glorious sound…his effortless command, dead-centre intonation and selfless artistry consistenly hold the attention.”
(Strad, January 2001)

"Bach's six sonatas and partitas distils much of what makes him such a compelling musician. Rich tone and intensity of feeling go hand in hand with vitality of rhythm, clarity of texture, breadth of architecture and refinement of dynamic shading to make these interpretations go deep below the aural surface to find the music's spiritual core."
(Daily Telegraph, March 9, 2002)

“Ehnes' tone is magnificent, his double-stopping astonishing and his musical tenderness utterly unsentimental. This is great stuff.”
(San Francisco Examiner, December 17, 2002)

Re-issued by Analekta in 2008 with the following new artwork:










 



Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)

Sonata for Violin and Piano No.1 in F minor, Op.80
[1] I Andante assai
[2] II Allegro brusco
[3] III Andante
[4] IV Allegrissimo

Five Melodies for Violin and Piano, Op.35bis
[5] I Andante
[6] II Lento, ma non troppo
[7] III Animato, ma non allegro
[8] IV Allegretto leggero e scherzando
[9] V Andante non troppo

Sonata for Violin and Piano in D major, Op.94bis
[10] I - Moderato
[11] II Scherzo: Presto
[12] III - Andante
[13] IV Allegro con brio





« …il ose se mesurer dans les deux sonates pour violon et piano de Prokofiev à des virtuoses considérés comme intouchables (Oïstrach, Kremer, Milstein, Perlman) qui a impressioneraient bien d’autres. En parfaite connivence avec la pianiste (Wendy Chen), il réussit à inquiéter ses prédécesseurs grâce à des moyens violonistiques exceptionnels, à un style totalement accordé au charme et à l’agressivité roborative de ces oeuvres. » “…he dares to measure himself against the virtuosi who have been considered “untouchable” (Oistrakh, Kremer, Milstein, Perlman) and who have impressed many. In perfect harmony with the pianist, he gives his predecessors pause for concern thanks to his exceptional playing, and a style completely in accord with the charm and invigorating aggression of the works”.
(Le Monde de la Musique, septembre 2000)

"This is my second encounter with James Ehnes on records and my first with Wendy Chen, and both are very welcome... The playing is, of course, virtuosic, and the recorded sound is excellent – very clear and colorful, with the partners equally balanced."
(American Record Guide, September/October 2000)

"... But nothing works quite so well as the splendid Sonata in D, op. 94. Here Ehnes and Chen seem to judge every note and every gesture to perfection, bringing out its sunny qualities, yes, but also its delicate whimsy."
(The Ottawa Citizen, March 2000)

« Deuxième coup d’essai et deuxième coup de maître pour James Ehnes. En deux enregistrements, il s’inscrit parmi les violonistes majeurs du moment... la performance est étonnante ! » A second master stroke for James Ehnes. In two recordings, he has found his place among the most important violinists of our time…the performance is astounding!
(André Guy, Répertoire)

« D’une voix chaude, large et pénétrante il anime chaque phrase d’un souffle digne des plus grands. Palette de timbre, énergie, lyrisme, fantaisie et concentration, rien ne manque à son propos qui retient l’attention d’un bout à l’autre du disque. »
(Jean-Michel Molkhou, Diapason, septembre 2000).
With a warm, large and penetrating voice he animates each phrase with an air worthy of the great interpreters. A palette of sonority, energy, lyricism, fantasy and concentration, nothing detracts from beginning to the end of this recording.








 



Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

[1] Tzigane
[2] Berceuse sur le nom de Gabriel Fauré

Sonata for Violin and Piano in G Major
[3] Allegretto
[4] Blues
[5] Perpetuum mobile

Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

Sonata for Violin and Piano in G minor
[6] Allegro vivo
[7] Intermède
[8] Finale

Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)

Sonata for Violin & Piano No. 1 in D minor
[9] Allegro agitato
[10] Adagio
[11] Allegretto moderato
[12] Allegro molto


Reissued by CBC Records in 2009 (MVCD 1177-2) as part of a 2 CD set called James Ehnes In Recital





“He gives us a splendid demonstration of his multiple qualities: beauty, fullness and intensity of sound, precise virtuosity.”
(Répertoire, May 2001)

“He has already distinguished himself to the point where he leaves no doubt as to his talent. Superb sonority, natural eloquence, a sense of construction, nothing is missing. Ravel’s Tzigane is dazzling, capricious crowned with an accelerando played with incredible mastery. In Debussy’s Sonata…his fluidity seduces us. The Saint Saëns touches on the truly exceptional…with a virtuosity that sweeps us off our feet.”
(Diapason, May 2001)








 



Nicolò Paganini (1782-1840)

OPERA 1
[1] Caprice No. 1 in E: Andante
[2] Caprice No. 2 in B minor: Moderato
[3] Caprice No. 3 in E minor: Sostenuto – Presto
[4] Caprice No. 4 in C minor: Maestoso
[5] Caprice No. 5 in A minor: Agitato
[6] Caprice No. 6 in G minor: Lento

OPERA 2
[7] Caprice No. 7 in A minor: Posato
[8] Caprice No. 8 in E flat: Maestoso
[9] Caprice No. 9 in E: Allegretto
[10] Caprice No. 10 in G minor: Vivace
[11] Caprice No. 11 in C: Andante – Presto
[12] Caprice No. 12 in A flat: Allegro
OPERA 3
[13] Caprice No. 13 in B flat: Allegro
[14] Caprice No. 14 in E flat: Moderato
[15] Caprice No. 15 in E minor: Posato
[16] Caprice No. 16 in G minor: Presto
[17] Caprice No. 17 in E flat: Sostenuto – Andante
[18] Caprice No. 18 in C: Corrente – Allegro
[19] Caprice No. 19 in E flat: Lento – Allegro assai
[20] Caprice No. 20 in D: Allegretto
[21] Caprice No. 21 in A: Amorosa – Presto
[22] Caprice No. 22 in F: Marcato
[23] Caprice No. 23 in E flat: Posato
[24] Caprice No. 24 in A: Tema con variazioni. Quasi presto






“He's a most remarkable young violinist. What is especially appropriate for Paganini is the boldness of his approach. It's clear that Paganini himself liked to live dangerously, and Ehnes's fearless tempos, plus the sheer confidence of his music-making, give us more than a glimpse of the amazement and delight the composer himself inspired. This boldness is at its best in places like the mob perpetuo of the fifth Caprice, but there are many other line things: the romantic, sensuous playing of the tremolando sixth Caprice, the very fast and mysterious No. 12— sounding like Chopin for the violin.”
(Gramophone, 1996)