James Ehnes Triumphs in Boston


The Boston Globe
Denève, BSO bring Paris to Boston
By Jeffrey Gantz -February 22, 2015
The next piece, Sergei Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1, is also nostalgic — so mellow, in fact, that Parisians found it too conservative when it premiered in 1923. The opening Andantino’s long, sad threnody seems to conjure World War I, and after a demonic dance of a Scherzo, there’s sober resignation in the closing Moderato. Canadian violinist James Ehnes gave a measured, laid-back reading, offering mystery rather than intensity. His encore, the Largo from Bach’s Third Sonata for Unaccompanied Violin, was sublimely elegant.

Boston Classical Review
Shovels down! Denève, BSO bring much-needed fun à la 1920s’ Paris
By David Wright -February 20, 2015
Sergei Prokofiev, notorious as music’s dish-breaking bad boy, was having a similar change of heart.  His Violin Concerto No. 1—played magnificently Thursday night by soloist James Ehnes and the BSO —may not have borrowed actual 18th-century vocabulary like his Symphony No. 1 (”Classical”), but its air of composure and shapely melodies were very much in the new spirit.

In Prokofiev’s concerto, however, the clear, elegant playing of violinist Ehnes seemed to put the orchestra on its mettle, as the soloist duetted prettily with individual players in the first movement and meshed as the principal voice in the organ-like orchestral sonorities of the finale.  Denève deftly partnered him in weaving the work’s rapt atmosphere.

The presence of Ehnes’s violin tone in the large hall seemed as intimate as chamber music, as he effortlessly projected the finest details of Prokofiev’s fantasy-like score.  In the piece’s central scherzo, the violinist dazzled with scorching scales, left-hand pizzicato, slashing martellato, and fast, whistling harmonics, all without losing his impeccable cool.

Ehnes received, and deserved, the biggest ovation of the night.  He obliged with an encore, a tastefully swoony rendition of the Largo from Bach’s Sonata for Solo Violin in C major, BWV 1005.

The Boston Musical Intelligencer
Revisiting Paris’s Années folles in Symphony Hall
by Cashman Kerr Prince - February 21, 2015
James Ehnes took the stage for Prokofiev’s concerto. Denève and the BSO played beautifully but the attraction here is the soloist. I have long admired Ehnes’ playing from his recordings so jumped at the opportunity to hear him live. He did not disappoint. It was as elegant as ever. Ehnes was sheer perfection. Recalled to the stage he gave us as encore J. S. Bach’s Allegro assai from the Sonata for Solo Violin No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1005.