**** - Excellent disc **** Exceptional Sound
Stéphane Friédérich - Classica magazine (France) - March 2015
Fitting end to feisty Canadian fiddler’s landmark series.”
“… For the Forty-Four Duos – Bite-sized colourful slices of folk music from the Balkans – Ehnes is joined by Amy Schwartz Moretti. Few of these pieces last a minute, except for the lovely prelude and canon. Some tunes will be familiar in other settings but played by two duelling violins they make for a spicy and entertaining 48 minutes. It’s so easy to say someone’s the new this or that, but perhaps comparing Ehnes to Heifetz, as one American critic has, is not wide of the mark.”
Steve Moffatt – limelightmagazine.com.au – 20 February 2015
“… Ehne’s playing in Contrasts is tonally dark and very nuanced and suits the music beautifully. Michael Collins plays the clarinet part again as he did in the wonderful recording he made with Martha Argerich. The Sonatina is a tuneful, exhibitionist work designed to please the gallery, and Ehnes and his pianist Andrew Armstrong pull out all the stops and certainly please me."
Joseph Magil – American Record Guide – November/December 2014
“…In these performances, slower pieces are exceptionally thoughtful, faster ones played with great aplomb. For once, it is a pleasure to listen to the entire set (48 minutes) without a break … For the general listener, I can’t imagine a better choice for the duos…”
James H North – Fanfare – November/December 2014
“James Ehnes continues to dazzle in his Bartók series… The recorded sound is full, with excellent balance.”
Tim Holmfray – The Strad magazine -September 2014
"...the performances here are absolutely immaculate ... The recorded sound is absolutely excellent – what a lovely acoustic Potton Hall has."
Paul Corfield Godfrey - MusicWeb-International.com - 27 August 2014
“… 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 Bartok wrote for Benny Goodman and Joseph Szigeti, pungently played by Ehnes, Michael Collins and Andrew Armstrong.” ****
Geoffrey Norris – The Telegraph – 14 June 2014
“…The trick in performing all these pieces 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.”
Rob Cowan – Gramophone magazine – August 2014
“…An exemplary account, then. Of a major work for its medium … warmly recommended for insights into a composer whose stature only increases over time.”
Richard Whitehouse – International Record Review – July/August 2
Performance ***** Recording *****
“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”
Erik Levi – BBC Music magazine - August 2014
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