James Ehnes Plays Beethoven


Violin Sonata No. 6 in A major, Op. 30 No. 1

Violin Sonata No. 9 in A major, Op. 47 ‘Kreutzer’

Performed by James Ehnes (violin), Andrew Armstrong (piano)

The duo of old friends, James Ehnes and Andrew Armstrong, has established itself as one of the most exciting of our times. Their albums of violin sonatas by Franck and Strauss, and Debussy, Elgar and Respighi have been praised by critics worldwide.

For this new album they turn to Beethoven and two A major sonatas with very different moods. The 9th, ‘Kreutzer’ sonata, is a huge work, heroic and turbulent in character – a kind of concerto for violin and piano. It is middle period Beethoven at its most dramatic.

By contrast, the 6th sonata is a serene, introspective work of great beauty which has tended to be overlooked by its more outward-looking siblings. The intimacy of this sonata – especially the slow movement – is all the more surprising as the original finale was removed by the composer, to become the finale of the ‘Kreutzer’. Beethoven wrote the gentle variations to conclude the 6th sonata.

The Guardian wrote last month:

“There’s a clarity of ideas that means they never have to overstate…For some listeners, the featherweight diction won’t be brawny or volatile enough for mid-period Beethoven, but it would be wrong to mistake cleanliness for lack of emotional heft…The uncluttered, conversational generosity of this duo speaks volumes.”

Here is James Ehnes performing the Bach Chaconne for violin alone:


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