2008 Grammy and Gramophone Award winner James Ehnes pays tribute to the world's most celebrated violin-makers in this unique ONYX project featuring performances on 12 of the greatest instruments ever made. The Fulton Collection is perhaps the most important private collection in the world and contains many examples of the legendary names Stradivari, Guarneri, da Salo and Guadagnini. For example, the priceless La Pucelle has never been heard in a recording, and the Lord Wilton was Yehudi Menuhin’s last instrument.
Ehnes performs 21 selections in a carefully planned recital programme specially chosen to suit each instrument and to work on its own terms. It finishes with a section comparing each instrument in an excerpt of the same piece, a unique opportunity to contrast the sound qualities of these spectacular instruments.
Ehnes says of the instruments: “I didn't want to spare them a full workout. I wanted to select repertoire that would show off their particular tonal characteristics and push them to the limit and me to my limit as well."
The DVD has the complete performances plus spectacular close-ups of the instruments and substantial interview sequences - Strads vs Guarneris, the importance of the bow, Ehnes’ relationship with the Fulton Collection and his preparation for the recording sessions. David Fulton also talks about his passion for collecting these rare instruments and says: “Ehnes is the only one who could have done this and is today’s David Oistrakh.” The highly collectible package includes detailed notes by Ehnes himself.
La Ronde des Lutins (Antonio Stradivari, 1715 'Marsick')
Suite populaire espagnole: I. El paño moruno
Suite populaire espagnole: II. Nana
Suite populaire espagnole: III. Canción
Suite populaire espagnole: IV. Polo
Suite populaire espagnole: V. Asturiana
Suite populaire espagnole: VI. Jota
La Capricieuse (Pietro Guarneri Peter of Mantua, 1698 'Shapiro')
Lotus Land (Giuseppe Guarneri 'del Gesù', 1737 'King Joseph')
Hora staccato (Antonio Stradivari, 1713 'Baron d'Assgnies')
Pièce en forme de Habanera (Antonio Stradivari, 1715 'Marsick')
Étude-Caprice, Op.18 No.4 (Pietro Guarneri Peter of Mantua, 1698 'Shapiro')
Mazurka, Op.81 No.1 (Antonio Stradivari, 1719 'Duke of Alba')
La Nuit (Andrea Guarneri, 1676 'Count Vitale, ex Landau')
Scottish Fantasy (excerpt): Pietro Guarneri (Peter of Mantua), 1698 'Shapiro'
Scottish Fantasy (excerpt): Antonio Stradivari, 1709 'La Pucelle'
Scottish Fantasy (excerpt): Antonio Stradivari, 1713 'Baron d'Assignies'
Scottish Fantasy (excerpt): Antonio Stradivari, 1715 'Marsick'
Scottish Fantasy (excerpt): Antonio Stradivari, 1715 'Baron Knoop'
Scottish Fantasy (excerpt): Antonio Stradivari, 1719 'Duke of Alba'
Scottish Fantasy (excerpt): Antonio Stradivari, 1733 'Sassoon'
Scottish Fantasy (excerpt): Giuseppe Guarneri 'del Gesù', 1737 'King Joseph'
Scottish Fantasy (excerpt): Giuseppe Guarneri 'del Gesù', 1742 'Lord Wilton'
Harold in Italy (excerpt): Gasparo Bertolotti (Gasparo da Salò), ca. 1560
Harold in Italy (excerpt): Andrea Guarneri, 1676 'Count Vitale, ex Landau'
Harold in Italy (excerpt): Giuseppe Guadagnini, 1793 'Rolla'
“…James Ehnes… has been given the run of the extraordinary collection of violins and violas assembled by David Fulton, to wit: one Pietro Guarneri, six Stradivari, two Guarneri "del Gesù" and violas by Bertolotti, Andrea Guarneri and Guadagnini… On the CD, you can enjoy Ehnes playing an enriching recital on all 12 instruments, capped by 12 "comparison tracks" in which the same brief passage from Bruch's Scottish Fantasy (Harold in Italy for the violas) is played on each instrument in turn. The same performances were filmed for the DVD. There are interviews with Ehnes, Fulton and others.”
14th February 2009
“Heard with one ear, this CD and DVD package presents an attractive collection of violin bon-bons, with three viola pieces thrown in. Heard with two ears, it's a fascinating journey through history, with Ehnes sharing the repertoire among 12 antique and precious instruments from the Fulton Collection, each with their own subtle character. A highlight is the 1737 Guarneri violin, smokily sumptuous in Cyril Scott's Lotus Land. The DVD's roaming camera grows fatiguing; not so Ehnes's musicianship.”
“The icing on the cake is provided by the DVD, which shows how Ehnes achieves miracles at close hand, including his unconventional left-hand thumb extension and relatively firm bow-hold. Beautifully photographed, consummately played and beguilingly engineered, this is a must for all music lovers.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.