Elgar: Violin Sonata in E minor, Op 82; Debussy: Violin Sonata in G minor; Respighi: Violin Sonata in B minor; Sibelius: Berceuse, Op 79 No 6

Reviewed on Tue 26 Apr, 2016

That fine Canadian virtuoso James Ehnes and his powerful accompanist Andrew Armstrong are sure guides and give clearly-expounded readings ... we get sharply-pointed accounts that have energy and drive, and show great care.

At one level, this disc of violin sonatas by Debussy, Elgar and Respighi (not to mention the little encore work by Sibelius) gives us some idea about what was going on in this genre during World War 1. None of these composers rode the horse of twelve-tone serialism which had emerged a decade or more earlier. At another level – the performance one – that fine Canadian virtuoso James Ehnes and his powerful accompanist Andrew Armstrong are sure guides and give clearly-expounded readings of these compositions. Modern performers do go for faithfulness and purity. Thus we get sharply-pointed accounts that have energy and drive, and show great care. There's a balancing act for every player between giving an accurate version, which means faithfulness to the score, and having their own vision, which means some deviation from a mechanical precision. The performers here are closer to clarity than to personality, which fits the age. The recording makes real the co-operative nature of the team.
–Ivor Solomons