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James Ehnes - In Recital


Release Date: 09/29/2009 
Label:  Cbc Records   Catalog #: 1177-2   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Maurice RavelClaude DebussyCamille Saint-SaënsHenri Wieniawski,   ... 
Performer:  James EhnesWendy ChenEduard Laurel
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Peerless playing … will please and astound.

James Ehnes is almost without question the finest violinist of his generation. As his career grows and he adds maturity to his immense talent, he 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 Read more 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. Joined by pianist Wendy Chen for a collection of staples from the impressionist canon, Ehnes plays with spot on intonation and natural sound. Of particular merit is the Ravel Sonata, which flows from dreamy to sexy to almost raunchy with its blues movement. Ehnes plays with silky elegance while not eschewing a foray or two into pure cabaret sensuality. Saint-Saëns’ more classic harmonies make for a pleasant contrast to all the languid impressionism of Debussy and Ravel. A composer that should be far more respected than he is, Saint-Saëns never ceases to amaze as one of the true musical craftsmen of his era. There is nary a genre in which he is not completely fluent. His writing is idiomatic, his sense of form and structure are all but flawless and his works have a way of sticking to your musical ribs in a way few other composers’ music can. Ehnes and Chen spin out line after seamless line to make this tuneful showpiece a thrilling ending to the first disc of this set. 

Joined on disc two by his long time recital partner Eduard Laurel, Ehnes gives us a sizable program of virtuoso gems from two of the better nineteenth century musical circus acts, Wieniawski and Sarasate. If you are seeking depth and profundity here you won’t find it, but you will leave the room satisfied with some catchy tunes and amazed at how easily James Ehnes can execute every technical magic trick in the book. I confess that I am not really as in love with this music as I am the French, but one cannot help but sit back in awe of just how well this music is performed. Alas, Mr. Laurel, who has in other outings proven himself to be a pianist of exceptional abilities, does not get to shine in the way that Ms. Chen does in the more demanding works of the first disc. Nonetheless he seems to have a good time and plays with panache. 

To date, I have not found a bad recording in all the discs that Mr. Ehnes has released and this is no exception. Now that he has recorded a great deal of the classic repertoire, it would be great fun to hear him tackle some more modern works. Maybe Paul Moravec will compose a sonata or concerto for Mr. Ehnes. Good idea, no? 

-- Kevin Sutton, MusicWeb International Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Tzigane for Violin and Orchestra by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  James Ehnes (Violin), Wendy Chen (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; France 
Length: 10 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Notes: Producer: Karen Wilson. 
2. Berceuse sur le nom de Fauré by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  James Ehnes (Violin), Wendy Chen (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1922; France 
Length: 2 Minutes 54 Secs. 
Notes: Producer: Karen Wilson. 
3. Sonata for Violin and Piano in G minor by Claude Debussy
Performer:  James Ehnes (Violin), Eduard Laurel (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1916-1917; France 
Length: 13 Minutes 30 Secs. 
4. Sonata for Violin and Piano in G major by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Wendy Chen (Piano), James Ehnes (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923-1927; France 
Length: 18 Minutes 06 Secs. 
5. Sonata for Violin and Piano no 1 in D minor, Op. 75 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Wendy Chen (Piano), James Ehnes (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1885; France 
Length: 22 Minutes 01 Secs. 
6. Polonaise brillante for Violin and Piano no 2 in A major, Op. 21 by Henri Wieniawski
Performer:  Eduard Laurel (Piano), James Ehnes (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1870; St. Petersburg, Russ 
Length: 8 Minutes 37 Secs. 
Notes: Producer: Keith Horner. 
7. Polonaise brillante for Violin and Piano no 1 in D major, Op. 4 by Henri Wieniawski
Performer:  Eduard Laurel (Piano), James Ehnes (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853; Russia 
Length: 5 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Notes: Producer: Keith Horner. 
8. Mazurkas (2), Op. 19: no 1 in G major "Obertass" by Henri Wieniawski
Performer:  Eduard Laurel (Piano), James Ehnes (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1860; St. Petersburg, Russ 
Length: 2 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Notes: Producer: Keith Horner. 
9. Scherzo-Tarantelle in G minor, Op. 16 by Henri Wieniawski
Performer:  Eduard Laurel (Piano), James Ehnes (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856 
Length: 4 Minutes 41 Secs. 
Notes: Producer: Keith Horner. 
10. Variations for Violin on an original theme, Op. 15 by Henri Wieniawski
Performer:  Eduard Laurel (Piano), James Ehnes (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1854; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 11 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Notes: Producer: Keith Horner. 
11. Spanish Dances (2) for Violin and Piano, Op. 21: no 1, Malagueña by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Eduard Laurel (Piano), James Ehnes (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878 
Length: 5 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Notes: Producer: Keith Horner. 
12. Spanish Dances (2) for Violin and Piano, Op. 21: no 2, Habañera by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Eduard Laurel (Piano), James Ehnes (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878 
Length: 4 Minutes 30 Secs. 
Notes: Producer: Keith Horner. 
13. Spanish Dances (2) for Violin and Piano, Op. 22: no 1, Romanza andaluza by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Eduard Laurel (Piano), James Ehnes (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879 
Length: 5 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Notes: Producer: Keith Horner. 
14. Spanish Dances (2) for Violin and Piano, Op. 22: no 2, Jóta Navarra by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Eduard Laurel (Piano), James Ehnes (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879 
Length: 4 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Notes: Producer: Keith Horner. 
15. Spanish Dances (2) for Violin and Piano, Op. 23: no 1, Playera by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Eduard Laurel (Piano), James Ehnes (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880 
Length: 5 Minutes 6 Secs. 
Notes: Producer: Keith Horner. 
16. Spanish Dances (2) for Violin and Piano, Op. 23: no 2, Zapateado by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Eduard Laurel (Piano), James Ehnes (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880 
Length: 3 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Notes: Producer: Keith Horner. 
17. Introduction and Tarantella, Op. 43 by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Eduard Laurel (Piano), James Ehnes (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1899 
Length: 5 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Notes: Producer: Keith Horner. 

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