James Ehnes

Ehnes Plays Bruch

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How many violin concertos did Max Bruch compose? Most would answer one, maybe two if the so-called Scottish Fantasy was included. The fact that Bruch wrote three violin concertos in addition to the Scottish Fantasy is a fact that eludes most listeners, and most violinists and orchestras, for that matter. To have a collection of all four of these works for violin and orchestra is rare. To hear them all in such exemplary performances by orchestra and soloist alike is almost unheard of. Violinist James Ehnes and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (alternately conducted by Charles Dutoit and Mario Bernardi) deliver deeply committed and invested performances, giving just as much attention, passion, and energy to the almost never-heard Third Concerto as they do the almost difficult-to-avoid First Concerto. Ehnes bridges the gap between technical and musical considerations with playing that is filled with appropriately taken and worthwhile risks, spontaneity, and a deep connection to the romanticism of Bruch's writing. He deftly shifts from powerful displays of technical brilliance and moments of serene tenderness, all the while producing a rich, warm tone that is still able to rise above the orchestra with ease. It's possible that if Bruch had written his concertos in a different order -- with the famous G minor concerto last -- that all of them would still be played and admired today. Listeners not already intimately acquainted with the First Concerto may enjoy listening to the Second and Third concertos first, allowing the First Concerto to be the climax of the album.

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