Customer Reviews


4 Reviews
5 star:
 (3)
4 star:    (0)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunningly beautiful
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...
Published on November 21, 2011 by Pekinman

versus
18 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Complete Misfire
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...
Published on January 10, 2012 by Transfigured Knight


Most Helpful First | Newest First

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunningly beautiful, November 21, 2011
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Bartok: Violin Concertos, Nos. 1 and 2; Viola Concerto (Audio CD)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


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, December 6, 2012
By 
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.

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

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)

............................................
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Complete Misfire, January 10, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Bartok: Violin Concertos, Nos. 1 and 2; Viola Concerto (Audio CD)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The wonderful Mr. Ehnes, December 17, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Bartok: Violin Concertos, Nos. 1 and 2; Viola Concerto (Audio CD)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.