James Ehnes James Ehnes James Ehnes

Date of Event

Sunday, 24. 5. 2020 from 20.00
Expected end of the concert 22.00

Price

300 - 900 CZK

Program

  • Ludwig van Beethoven: Violin Sonata No. 10 in G major Op. 96
  • Ludwig van Beethoven: Violin Sonata No. 8 in G major Op. 30/3
  • Ludwig van Beethoven: Violin Sonata No. 9 in A major Op. 47 “Kreutzer”

Interprets

  • Andrew Armstrong - piano
  • James Ehnes - violin

The duo of James Ehnes and Andrew Armstrong has been performing regularly since 2001. The Prague Spring audience can no doubt remember their festival concert in 2015, which struck a special note with its original programme and flawless execution. “How did the almost two-metre tall James Ehnes captivate me? Firstly with his crystal-clear intonation, the likes of which I have never heard before,” the Opera Plus reviewer wrote at the time.

Their cooperation also gave rise to a number of excellent, critically acclaimed recordings, including a three-piece set with the works of Béla Bartók, Sergei Prokofiev, César Franck, Claude Debussy, and the sixth and ninth violin sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven, which won the prestigious Gramophone Editor’s Choice in 2017.

One of the primary themes of the upcoming edition of the Prague Spring is the celebration of 250 years since the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827), which is reflected in the programme of this concert – it will comprise three of the violin sonatas of this musical genius.

Besides Sonata No. 8 in G major Op. 30 and Sonata No. 10 in G major Op. 96, audience members can look forward to Beethoven’s greatest and most famous sonata of all, Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 9 in A major “Kreutzer” Op. 47. The virtuosic composition, which bears the classifier “written in a high concert style, almost as a concerto”, was originally written for the violinist George Polgreen Bridgetower, who premiered it with Beethoven in 1803. However, the composer later decided to dedicate the work to the pre-eminent French violinist Rudolph Kreutzer, whom he had met in Vienna in 1798. The composition, which contains a fusion of concerto and sonata elements, continues to awe audiences with its grandiosity and staggering virtuosity, which caused the work to exceed all the boundaries of the genre in its day. Ehnes seems to be predestined to such challenges. “Bringing something new to established repertoire: surely that’s the ultimate test of any artist. If so, James Ehnes has done it again,” enthuses a Gramophone review of his recording of Mendelssohn’s violin concerto. Such words only augment our expectations.

Indeed, the fresh Grammy Award winner (2019) James Ehnes is one of the most distinctive violin virtuosos of the present international music scene. Reviewers often compare him to the legendary Jascha Heifetz. “Ehnes’s tone came through wonderfully silken in its upper registers, and tawny in its lower which were rich in the wine-red, golden, chocolate colors of his violin,” claims one review on Bachtrack. In this context, it is worth noting that Ehnes plays on the valuable 1715 “Marsick” violin by Antonio Stradivari. The talented Canadian’s career has taken him to more than thirty different countries and some of the greatest concert venues in the world, such as Carnegie Hall in New York and Wigmore Hall in London. His partners in chamber music have included Yo-Yo Ma, Leif Ove Andsnes, or Yuja Wang.

The American pianist Andrew Armstrong is in much demand as both a soloist and a chamber musician. His astoundingly broad repertoire encompasses some 50 piano concertos. He has worked with the likes of Itzhak Perlman, Peter Oundjian, Günther Herbig, Stefan Sanderling, or Jean-Marie Zeitouni. He accompanied James Ehnes for their Prague Spring debut in 2015. “A partner like that is hard to come by. His highly economised, spider-like finger technique is utterly flawless, his pianissimos are rich, his fortissimos soft, and his palette of dynamic hues must surely have a thousand shades. It was a masterclass in chamber music,” reads one of the many enthusiastic responses to their joint performance.