James Ehnes

Selections: The Best of James Ehnes

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Selections: The Best of James Ehnes has such a modest title and appearance that it might slip by unnoticed, but don't let it, because there is compelling music on this greatest-hits CD that warrants serious attention. Drawn from six of the seven albums Ehnes recorded for Analekta since 2000, this sampler reveals his extraordinary skills in excerpts from the sonatas and partitas of J.S. Bach, recital favorites by Antonin Dvorák, Camille Saint-Saëns, and Jules Massenet, and popular encores by Fritz Kreisler, all central pieces in the violinist's repertoire. Ehnes' vibrant tone, smooth bowing, and crisp articulation heighten his expression and lend his phrases a distinctiveness that shows scrupulous attention to each note. Yet this album wasn't intended as a showcase only for his technique because the program offers little in the way of flashy virtuosity, but above all emphasizes Ehnes musicality. Only Kreisler's Tambourin Chinois can be said to merely be a showstopper, and it is surrounded by mostly character pieces and substantial movements that demonstrate more intellectual or lyrical sides of his playing. Listeners who already know Ehnes' exceptional gifts may recommend this disc to friends, and newcomers to his artistry should definitely try out some of the tracks to make his acquaintance.

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