James Ehnes plays Prokofiev - Complete Works for Violin | Chandos CHAN107872

James Ehnes plays Prokofiev - Complete Works for Violin


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Label: Chandos

Cat No: CHAN107872

Barcode: 0095115178720

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 2

Release Date: 2nd September 2013

Gramophone Editor's Choice



This two-CD set offers all the works that Prokofiev wrote for the violin as solo instrument. One of the most sought after and acclaimed virtuoso violinists today, James Ehnes, is accompanied by the BBC Philharmonic conducted by Gianandrea Noseda and by the pianist Andrew Armstrong, with whom he has previously made a number of highly acclaimed Chandos recordings. The distinguished Amy Schwartz Moretti joins him in the Sonata for Two Violins.

The First Violin Concerto, begun in 1913 and completed in the summer of 1917, did not receive its first performance until 1923. There is much charm and gentle tunefulness in this work, written during a comparatively lyrical period in Prokofiev’s compositional life, though it is not without passages of bravura, especially in the brilliant central scherzo.

The Second Concerto was premiered in 1935 and in feeling and atmosphere inhabits the world of the ballet Romeo and Juliet. The beautiful opening Russian theme is highly seductive, though in the first movement there is an undeniable hint of anxiety. The central movement contains many varied and contrasting ideas whilst the finale is notable for the flamboyant use of the bass drum, which adds both piquancy and drama.

The contrasting Violin Sonatas are closely associated with the violinist David Oistrakh, with whom the composer formed a close association. The Second Sonata (composed first) is a transcription of the Flute Sonata of 1943. Simple, expressive beauty is the hallmark of this work, Prokofiev’s mixture of high-spirits and sharp edges, notably in the finale, having made it a popular repertoire piece.

Of the more serious First Sonata (1946), David Oistrakh wrote: ‘this was truly great music, and indeed for sheer beauty and depth nothing to equal it had been written for the violin for many a decade.’

The Sonata for Solo Violin (1947) was written with students in mind, the deceptively simple theme imbued with the composer’s characteristic twists and quirkiness. Prokofiev composed the Sonata for Two Violins (1932) for the Parisian chamber music society Triton, and the composer felt that, ‘in spite of the seemingly narrow framework, it seemed possible to make it interesting enough for the public to listen for ten or fifteen minutes without a sense of fatigue’.

The Five Melodies are charming transcriptions by Prokofiev of his Five Songs, Op.35.

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