James Ehnes

Bartók: Chamber Works for Violin, Vol. 3

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Canadian violinist James Ehnes, one of the more saleable soloists in classical music at the moment, gets top billing on this collection of little Bartók works. But only in the little Sonatina, BB 102a, a transcription of a piano work, is he really featured; in the other works he's an equal partner in an ensemble. The oddity here is the collection of 44 Duos, BB 104, which Bartók wrote as a collection of student pieces in 1931. Bartók probably did not intend them as a single work, which makes the rather lofty motives imputed to them by annotator Paul Griffiths (he even suggests that the multi-ethnic character of the music, a Bartók characteristic since the beginning, might have been a warning against rising fascism), a bit unlikely. They are of a piece with Bartók's other major pedagogical work, the Mikrokosmos for piano, and the set of 44 has no real overall shape; hearing them all together is a bit much. That said, they're consistently interesting, each exploring a certain scale or folk rhythm, and Ehnes and Amy Schwarz Moretti treat them straightforwardly and intelligently. The other major work on the program is the trio Contrasts, BB 116, composed in 1938 for clarinetist Benny Goodman but containing just a hint of jazz that is nicely teased out by clarinetist Michael Collins. There are many other recordings of this work, and the whole is hardly an essential Bartók album, but those interested in the 44 Duos as a reference item will find a strong performance here.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Contrasts, for violin, clarinet & paino, BB 116
1 05:05 Amazon
2 04:26 Amazon
3 06:41 Amazon
Sonatina, BB 102a
4 01:30 Amazon
5 00:40 Amazon
6 02:07 Amazon
44 Duos, for 2 violins, BB 104
7 00:59 Amazon
8 00:41 Amazon
9 01:01 Amazon
10 00:53 Amazon
11 00:58 Amazon
12 00:56 Amazon
13 00:46 Amazon
14 00:57 Amazon
15 00:45 Amazon
16 01:04 Amazon
17 01:16 Amazon
18 00:55 Amazon
19 01:30 Amazon
20 00:56 Amazon
21 01:03 Amazon
22 00:59 Amazon
23 00:46 Amazon
24 00:45 Amazon
25 01:07 Amazon
26 01:28 Amazon
27 02:07 Amazon
28 00:41 Amazon
29 01:20 Amazon
30 00:45 Amazon
31 00:57 Amazon
32 00:30 Amazon
33 00:33 Amazon
34 02:18 Amazon
35 00:43 Amazon
36 00:51 Amazon
37 00:41 Amazon
38 00:43 Amazon
39 01:31 Amazon
40 00:57 Amazon
41 01:03 Amazon
42 00:55 Amazon
43 01:05 Amazon
44 02:40 Amazon
45 00:42 Amazon
46 00:49 Amazon
47 00:49 Amazon
48 00:51 Amazon
49 01:16 Amazon
50 01:13 Amazon
51 01:53 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick