Ysaÿe : Sonatas for Solo Violin

Ysaÿe : Sonatas for Solo Violin

James Ehnes


Album review

“Quite a number of musicians recorded at home during the coronavirus pandemic, with varying results, and this release by violinist James Ehnes may take the prize for pandemic-era home music-making. He recorded, with the help of producer Simon Kiln, in the late-night/early morning hours to avoid traffic and family noise. The six Ysaÿe sonatas mark perhaps the technical apex of the solo violin repertory, rivaled only by the Paganini Caprices, containing heavy encrustations of trills, double-stopped runs, quarter tones, and more. Ehnes is noted as a violinist with a clean sound in the face of such challenges, and he does not disappoint here, but the circumstances of the work's recording have left their traces on his playing in a perhaps indefinable way. Ysaÿe said that a great violinist "must be a violinist, a thinker, a poet, a human being, he must have known hope, love, passion and despair, he must have run the gamut of the emotions in order to express them all in his playing," and there is a remarkable reflective quality here that elevates this recording to the realm of the greats. Consider the first movement, "L'Aurore" ("dawn"), of the fifth sonata, where Ehnes is deliberate, sensuous, and worshipful. It's a marvelous performance, and it loses nothing sonically to its unusual surroundings.”

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Record label



    30 April 2021