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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 (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bartok: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 And 2/ Viola Concerto (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.

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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...
Thank you (UK review)

I'd also add to this. When you in particular review a particular CD, I pay pretty close attention. I would say the characteristics of your reviews I value the most are the detail and general sense of balance and fairness that comes across. That's a great help. Thanks for taking the time on your reviews. (US review)

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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
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This review is from: Bartok: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 And 2/ Viola Concerto (Audio CD)
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
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This review is from: Bartok: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 And 2/ Viola Concerto (Audio CD)
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
By 
Jonathan Greenyer "JonathanGreenyer" (Windsor, Berkshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bartok: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 And 2/ Viola Concerto (Audio CD)
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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