Saturday, September 3, 2011

James Ehnes

James Ehnes, is a Canadian violinist born on January 27, 1976.  Ehnes is probably, along with Leila Josefowicz, the best known Canadian violinist concertizing today.  He is also one of the most-recorded contemporary violinists, with over 25 CDs to his credit.  One of those CDs is similar to ones which Ruggiero Ricci and Elmar Oliveira have done previously – a comparison of some very remarkable and valuable violins.  Many have said that Ehnes is the most underrated violinist of this generation, though that has also been said of Pinchas Zukerman.  In fact, YouTube has very few videos of his performances though I did find this one.  He began violin lessons with his father, a trumpet player, at age 4 (some sources say age 5.)  At age 9 he began studies with Canadian violinist Francis Chaplin, pupil of Louis Persinger and violin professor at Brandon University (Manitoba, Canada.)  His first recital he gave at age 10.  At age 13, he performed as soloist with the Montreal Symphony, playing Ravel's famous Tzigane.  After 1989, his main teacher was Sally Thomas, pupil of Ivan Galamian.  Ehnes graduated from The Julliard School (New York) in 1997, winning several prizes along the way.  He was 21 years old.  Ehnes has been concertizing on a world-wide scale ever since.  His debut appearance with the New York Philharmonic took place on July 7, 2003.  On that occasion, he played the Tchaikovsky concerto.  The Canadian (British) Monarchy and the Canadian Governor General have also bestowed honors on him.  In 2008, he won a Grammy for his recording of the Korngold concerto; he has also won several other awards for his recordings.  His technique is so advanced and polished a Canadian newspaper has called him “the Jascha Heifetz of our day.”  Another reviewer stated that Ehnes “achieves a sonority of such beauty that words cannot describe it.”  For the last fifteen years, Ehnes has spent part of his summer with the Seattle Chamber Music Society - in 2012, he becomes its Artistic Director.  His violin is the Marsick Stradivarius from 1714, although he has also played the 1717 Windsor Stradivarius and a Riccardo Antoniazzi (1853-1912) violin.  

1 comment:

  1. Wandered to your blog while curiously searching on the internet why Ehnes is so vastly underrated. A really nice blog, I must say!
    Apart from Hillary Hahn, I don't think any other violinist of this generation can hold a candle to Ehnes' supreme musicianship and technique. He has got it all- a watertight and highly secure technique, a respect for the instrument and music that is all too rare these days, a thorough knowledge of the rich heritage of violin repertoire, a versatile, easily adaptable yet individual tone and an unfailing sense of musicality- and all this evident at the highest stage from such a young age. He is sensationally good considering how deftly he walks the tightrope between technical accuracy and conveying the composer's intentions with utmost integrity. Despite his technique being second to none, he never brandishes it or shows it off just for the sake of it, preferring instead to submit it to serve the music. It may sound blasphemous but I think very few among even the greatest ever violinists had achieved such a wondrous balance between technique and musicality- Grumiaux, Heifetz and Milstein come to mind. What a pity that he has made far fewer recordings and concert appearances than many overhyped and immature young 'prodigies'!