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Bartok: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 And 2/ Viola Concerto

James Ehnes Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: £12.37 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Biography

James Ehnes was born in 1976 in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. He began violin studies at the age of four, at age nine he became a protege of the noted Canadian violinist Francis Chaplin. He studied with Sally Thomas at the Meadowmount School of Music and from 1993 to 1997 at The Juilliard School, winning the Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music upon his ... Read more in Amazon's James Ehnes Store

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Frequently Bought Together

Bartok: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 And 2/ Viola Concerto + Bartok: Works for Violin and Piano, Vol. 1
Price For Both: £24.92

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Product details

  • Conductor: Gianandrea Noseda
  • Composer: Béla Bartók
  • Audio CD (30 Aug 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Chandos
  • ASIN: B005EMNLLE
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 130,506 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Violin Concerto Nos 1 and 2 - James Ehnes/BBC Philharmonic
2. Viola Concerto - James Ehnes/BBC Philharmonic

Product Description

Product Description

Hailed as the Jascha Heifetz of our day (The Globe and Mail, Canada), the violinist James Ehnes is widely considered one of the most dynamic and exciting performers in classical music, appearing regularly with the worlds finest orchestras and conductors. Accompanied here by the BBC Philharmonic under Gianandrea Noseda, Ehnes is the soloist in Bartóks two violin concertos in which he plays the Marsick Stradivarius of 1715, as well as in the viola concerto, performing on the Rolla Giuseppe Guadagnini viola of 1793, on loan from the Fulton Collection. James Ehnes said of this disc: These three concertos are among the most striking examples of Bartóks early, middle, and late periods, each showing a very different side of one of the great musical voices of all time; they are among my very favourite pieces to perform. Bartók wrote his first concerto for violin in 1908 for the young violinist Stefi Geyer, to whom he was romantically attached at the time, which explains the warm feelings expressed in the first movement; though the relationship ended shortly after the works completion, Bartók and Geyer remained on friendly terms. The composer shelved the concerto, which remained in Geyers possession, unperformed until two years after her death, nearly fifty years after it was written. Violin Concerto No. 2 was commissioned by the Hungarian violinist Zoltán Székely almost thirty years after the first concerto was completed. Bartók at the time would have preferred to write an extended set of variations, but Székely maintained that, seeing as he was paying for the work, he should get what he asked for. Bartók reluctantly agreed but later pointed out that he had had his way after all, seeing as the central movement is in variation form, and the finale works with variations of themes from the first movement. The Viola Concerto is among the last pieces on which Bartók worked. Existing only in the form of extended sketches at the time of his death in September 1945, the work was completed by the violist and composer Tibor Serly, a fellow Hungarian and close friend of Bartóks. Compared to earlier works by Bartók, the concerto is harmonically restrained with a melancholy quality that was always evident in his music, but which intensified in his late years.

Product Description

Concertos pour violon n°1 & n°2 - Concerto pour alto, Sz120 / James Ehnes, violon & alto - BBC Philharmonic - Gianandrea Noseda, direction

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By I. Giles TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This disc, recorded between 2009-11, has a program content that will answer many collectors' dreams as it so usefully includes the viola concerto completed posthumously but still a fine work. The usual collecting problem is finding a good viola concerto that avoids problems of coupling.

The performing style of Ehnes is generally more lyrical and less bitingly Hungarian gypsy style than is often presented. In this way the concerto becomes more central European and 'civilised' and there will be those that feel the music has been robbed of its essential folk-based earthiness. I feel that this is a valid comment. However, just as it is possible to obtain considerable pleasure of Russian music, such as that by Rachmaninov for example, by other nationalities other than the Russians even without that special Russian emotional rawness, I think that it is also possible to enjoy this disc in the same sort of way. Ehnes certainly delivers immaculate technical mastery and also provides a satisfying 'musical' performance within the limitations as described above.

What you will not get is the sort of Hungarian drive and identification that is immediately apparent in performances by Zehetmair and the Budapest orchestra conducted by Fischer for example. You will also get another example of fine Chandos engineering which aids following and unravelling the Bartok textures as they are so clearly recorded and laid out before our ears.

This then is a very satisfying disc of Hungarian origin but presented more as central violin concerto repertory. There is a place for such a disc and performance and as such I have enjoyed it - but, and it is a but, I do have the other more earthy approaches in my collection and I enjoy Ehnes mostly as an extra to the real thing!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning violin Playing 25 Nov 2011
By richard
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I am not sure how to rate this disc. Perhaps I should describe my reasons for purchase and you may evaluate my remarks accordingly.I recently attended a concert featuring James Ehnes and was truly astonished at the quality of his playing. After half a century of concert-going, I am often delighted but rarely overwhelmed. He is simply the best violinist I have ever heard live.

I was anxious to obtain a CD of his but, as my shelves are groaning with the weight of different versions of the popular violin works, I sought to be slightly more adventurous. Bartok, hardly my favoutite composer, was barely represented in my collection so, as I had heard part of his 1st Violin concerto and found it quite approachable, I decided to go for it.

Working on converting myself to Bartok is still unfinished business. The disc is beautifully played and immaculately recorded but I must leave you to your own views on the composer. Suffice it to say that if through some oversight you have not yet sampled Ehnes's playing, I suggest you rectify that as soon as possible. He has released over 20 discs so a choice of something to suit doesn't have to include any element of hair shirt.

The 5 stars is because I cannot possibly fault this disc- any limitations are purely my own.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Converted 30 Mar 2014
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Bartok had been a step too far for me. James Ehnes presented his music beautifully, with skill and his exceptional violin, as I'd trusted he would.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 11 Dec 2012
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
this is a wonderful album and the recording is of a very high quality strongly recommend it to discover the joy of scrunchy music from the brillant bartok
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunningly beautiful 22 Nov 2011
By Pekinman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
James Ehnes' performance of the first movement (Andante Sostenuto) of Bartok's 1st Violin Concerto is one of the most magnificently beautiful things I've ever heard. It's right up there with Karajan's Vienna account of the Adagio from Bruckner's 8th Symphony in it's emotional wallop.
Ehnes and Gianandrea Noseda present this opening movement of this 3 concerto cd as one long serene and profound meditation on Love and Joy. It is a miracle of evocation seeing as Love and Joy are so fleeting if they ever appear at all. To capture the spirit of these two high human aspirations is astonishing enough, but the musical expression of all the participants is beyond imagination. The BBC Philharmonic plays this movement as if in an underwater trance of beauty and bliss. The woodwind tone colors are muted and melancholy but shot-through with a poignant happiness. Words escape me now.

The rest of this cd of Bartok's two Violin Concerti and the posthumous Viola Concerto is on an very high level of execution and recording.
The engineering is splendidly clear yet soft-edged and intimate. There is no want of spikiness where it is called for, and it often is in Bartok, and the technical challenges of the solo and orchestral parts are met with seeming effortlessness.

I can't recommend this set highly enough, even for those who have never warmed to Bartok's music. It is worth the price of purchase simply to have the first track of the Andante Sostenuto. It is life enhancing and that is not something that can be said very often.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine and very useful disc of the complete Bartok string concertos 6 Dec 2012
By I. Giles - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This disc, recorded between 2009-11, has a program content that will answer many collectors' dreams as it so usefully includes the viola concerto completed posthumously but still a fine work. The usual collecting problem is finding a good viola concerto that avoids problems of coupling.

The performing style of Ehnes is generally more lyrical and less bitingly Hungarian gypsy style than is often presented. In this way the concerto becomes more central European and 'civilised' and there will be those that feel the music has been robbed of its essential folk-based earthiness. I feel that this is a valid comment. However, just as it is possible to obtain considerable pleasure of Russian music, such as that by Rachmaninov for example, by other nationalities other than the Russians even without that special Russian emotional rawness, I think that it is also possible to enjoy this disc in the same sort of way. Ehnes certainly delivers immaculate technical mastery and also provides a satisfying 'musical' performance within the limitations as described above.

What you will not get is the sort of Hungarian drive and identification that is immediately apparent in performances by Zehetmair and the Budapest orchestra conducted by Fischer for example. You will also get another example of fine Chandos engineering which aids following and unravelling the Bartok textures as they are so clearly recorded and laid out before our ears.

This then is a very satisfying disc of Hungarian origin but presented more as central violin concerto repertory. There is a place for such a disc and performance and as such I have enjoyed it - but, and it is a but, I do have the other more earthy approaches in my collection and I enjoy Ehnes mostly as an extra to the real thing! However, for those for whom this program and type of approach might make it easier to tackle one of the 20th century's great violin concertos (number 2) this may well be a perfect purchase.

............................................

Some dialogue from the comments section that may offer further help:

I thought that you might like to know that before I buy a recording I now look through all the reviews to see if you have posted one. Your assessments and opinions are invaluable. Thank you. (US review)

I particularly like your format of review. They give the prospective purchaser an idea of the style of the playing and relevant comparisons. They are succinct. Keep up the good work! (UK review)

I'm sure there are many other serious collectors, besides myself, who wait for your synopsis and opinion before spending their hard-earned money on new releases...
Keep up the good work!
Thank you (UK review)

............................................
18 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Complete Misfire 10 Jan 2012
By Transfigured Knight - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
First, let me say, James Ehnes is a superb violinist and does well in a lot of different repertoire, but I hate to say that Bartok isn't the composer for him regardless of what his attachment to these works are. He's too soft-edged for this music. He attempts to play Bartok beautifully, like Dmitry Sitkovetsky has tried to do, and both of these violinists fail in this kind of interpretation because I don't think it's what Bartok intended. Where's the passion? Where's the fire? Yes, Ehnes has great clarity in both concerti, but this isn't enough for me. In my view, Kyung-wha Chung still has the best account of these two concerti on record (VC's 1 & 2 w/ Solti/CSO, second recorded performance of VC 2 under Rattle/CBSO).

The accompaniment from Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic seems rather uninvolved. Noseda has turned in several good performances but this wasn't one of them. He doesn't seem too interested in the music. Let's face it: Solti, Boulez, and Ivan Fischer are still the supreme Bartok conductors of the last 30 years. Each of these conductors understand this music from the inside/out. Noseda is just bland and dull to the point of where it's almost insulting to be performing Bartok's music this way.

The audio quality was fine, but not even this can save this dismal performance. For a better account of the 1st and 2nd VCs, try Kyung-wha Chung or Thomas Zehetmair (Fischer/Budapest Festival Orch./Berlin Classics). These two violinists understand the music and how to actually achieve intensity and an emotional drive in their interpretations.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The wonderful Mr. Ehnes 17 Dec 2011
By Charles W. Kessler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This is another lovely recording to add to the impressive and lyrical discography of James Ehnes. For all of us who love his playing, Bartok is a welcomed addition to a collection of James Ehnes CDs.
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