James Ehnes, classical review: 'A rich, bright and muscular sound'
Wigmore Hall, London
Monday 06 January 2014
The young Canadian fiddler James Ehnes is not so much in love with the violin as with specific instruments, of which he is a connoisseur, and in pursuit of which - most notably a 1715 Strad - he has spent much of his energy.
After falling in love with that Strad’s sound, he was led a dance lasting years: he had it as a loan, had to yield it up to a buyer, then it came back on the market, and was finally bought by a rich friend who gave it him on permanent loan ‘to stop me whining about it’.
With Ehnes’s duo partner suddenly taken ill, that Strad came centre-stage for Ehnes’s substitute solo programme: two of Bach’s greatest violin works, Partitas 2 and 3. And one saw immediately what he was talking about: the sound was rich, bright, and muscular as he launched into the tumbling figurations of the opening Prelude.
His playing was exemplarily clean, with beautifully-handled echo effects, but there wasn’t much poetry. Only in the final Chaconne did he reveal the full extent of his artistry, letting its architecture grow until it climaxed in a blaze of glory, before dying back down to a confiding intimacy
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