Musical Criticism.com - 21 October 2007
"Elgar’s violin concerto is his most intimately emotional piece, its ardent themes requiring total commitment from soloist and orchestra. James Ehnes plays with supreme assurance and tenderness, particularly in the central andante, the essence of the work’s enigmatic inscription: ’Here is enshrined the soul of...? It seems clear today that the mysterious dedicatee was pianist Alice Stuart-Wortley, the ’other Alice’ in his life. Andrew Davis conducts with instinctive understanding of this hymn to a muse and brings real sunshine to the charming ’Serenade for Strings’.
The Observer - 11 November 2006
"The Canadian violinist James Ehnes plays this concerto with superb technical accomplishment, and he is equally impressive in the more extrovert episodes as in the intimate and amorous musing. With Sir Andrew Davis a sensitive collaborator and the Philharmonia responding wholeheartedly, this is a distinguished contribution to the Elgar discography. I would have given the disc five stars except that the recording, made in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, lacks the full body that such a passionate interpretation deserves. The disc is filled out with a lithe perfomrance of the early and adorable Serenade." ****
Sunday Telegraph - 2 December 2007
Classic FM Disc of the Month
Classic FM Magazine - January 2008
CD OF THE WEEK
"A few weeks ago, when the Telegraph asked various figures prominent in the arts to nominate their top talents for 2008, the conductor Marin Alsop chose James Ehnes.
Anyone who has been following this young Canadian violinist over the years will know why. His gifts were already prodigious when I first heard him in the 1990s. He has continued to mature since then, his playing deepening across a wide repertoire in which, as Alsop observed, he manages to identify intimately with the style and the spirit of the music he is performing.
This is abundantly true of this recording of the Elgar Violin Concerto, made during a series of memorable concerts last May. As it happens, I also heard him give his first ever public performance of the concerto several years ago (with the London Symphony Orchestra in Brighton), 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.
advertisementCoupled here with an equally idiomatic account of the Serenade for Strings, this performance of the concerto is a landmark recording from a consummate artist whose instincts and sensibility mark him out as one of the finest musicians in today’s firmament."
The Daily Telegraph 19 January 2008
"James Ehnes plays Elgar’s Violin Concerto with obvious affection that shines forth in the brilliant technical display in the first movement’s passagework, making the Concerto sound surprisingly idiomatic. Ehnes plays with a combination of extroversion and introspection that marks his reading with the kind of personal stamp that Elgar must have intended in his epigraph. Fireworks give way to another kind of breathless enchantment that Ehnes and the Orchestra together conjure. In sheer bravura, then, as well as
in exquisite sensibility, James Ehnes’s reading of Elgar’s Concerto deserves a place among the most prepossessWg. Strongly recommended."
Fanfare - Septembert/October 2008
"Best of the Year 2008 -"
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