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Elgar: Violin Concerto, etc / Davis, Ehnes, et al

Album Summary

>Elgar, Edward : Concerto for Violin in B minor, Op. 61
>Elgar, Edward : Serenade for Strings in E minor, Op. 20
Performer Conductor Ensemble
  • >
Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Still only 30, Canada's James Ehnes is increasingly placed among the four or five most complete violinists on the planet. His outstanding performance of the 'Violin Concerto' was recorded live in May during the Philharmonia Orchestra's Elgar celebrations, led by noted Elgarian Andrew Davis. Maestro Davis has conducted the work for many soloists over the years (though this is his first recording of it) and considers Ehnes to be the finest of them all: "he actually plays what Elgar wrote - and so musically!" The program also includes the lovely 'Serenade Op.20'. "A performance of conspicuous pedigree and insight guaranteed to make you fall in love all over again with this sublime music." -Gramophone, 2008 Award Winner

Gramophone Magazine
Even before the review was in, a well-meaning soul placed this disc on my desk. This, my benefactor assured me, was not just "another Elgar" for the anniversary - it was something special. So it proves. Ehnes finds glowing tone and inspiration throughout in a beautiful yet penetrating reading. Will it displace my beloved Kennedy or Kang? Time will tell.

Gramophone Magazine
Not since Nigel Kennedy's 1997 remake with Sir Simon Rattle and the CBSO (EMI, 1/98) have I heard an account of the Elgar as thrillingly combustible, imaginative and involving as this. Davis's utterly unforced and ravishingly moving account of the entrancing Serenade makes a cherishable pendant.

BBC Music Magazine
James Ehnes has a lovely ripe vibrato and an expressive openness that touches the heart from his first entry. It's when it comes to the balancing of confessional intimacy with symphonic purposefulness that I'm not so convinced. Ehnes does try to drive the music forward in places, but the impression is more of spurts of activity amidst long stretches of dreamy lyricism.

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
Not since Nigel Kennedy's 1997 EMI remake with Sir Simon Rattle and the CBSO has the Elgar received a recording as thrillingly combustible, imaginative and involving as this.

James Ehnes brings to this great concerto a rapt identification, tingling temperament and glowing ardour. Not only is Ehnes's technical address impeccable and intonation miraculously true, his contribution is remarkable for its intrepid emotional scope, athletic agility and (perhaps above all) jaw-dropping delicacy (nowhere more heart-tuggingly potent than in the finale's accompanied cadenza).

Ehnes is also fortunate in enjoying the support of Sir Andrew Davis, a proven Elgarian whose wonderfully perceptive conducting has authoritative sweep, elasticity and fiery passion to spare as well as a very special understanding of those moments of aching intimacy in which this of all scores abounds: what a ravishing backcloth he provides for the ineffable appearance of the 'Windflower' theme in the same movement; and how affecting are the strings' songful sighs in the ensuing Andante. One or two unruly timpani thwacks aside, the Philharmonia's response exhibits polish, grace and dedication.

Some might take issue with the sound which is a little shrouded and lacking something in alluring bloom (the actual balance is otherwise very much as you would hear from a seat in the stalls).

No matter, this remains a performance of conspicuous pedigree and insight guaranteed to make you fall in love all over again with this sublime music and which can only boost Ehnes's standing as one of the most gifted and charismatic fiddlers around. Davis's utterly unforced and ravishingly moving account of the entrancing Serenade makes a cherishable pendant.

Penguin Guide
[an] excpetionally subtle and understand account of the Elgar Violin Concerto. [Ehnes's] half-tones are ravishing, and though he uses a wide vibrato the result is anything but sentimental..Andrew Davis's lilting account of the Serenade for Strings makes an excellent fill-up.



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Works Details

>Elgar, Edward : Concerto for Violin in B minor, Op. 61
  • Performer: James Ehnes (Violin)
  • Conductor: Andrew Davis
  • Notes: Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, England (05/17/2007/05/20/2007)
  • Running Time: 48 min. 11 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 1909-1910

>Elgar, Edward : Serenade for Strings in E minor, Op. 20
  • Conductor: Andrew Davis
  • Notes: Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, England (05/17/2007/05/20/2007)
  • Running Time: 12 min. 14 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1892