|James Ehnes. Photo by Benjamin Ealovega|
Virtuosic Canadian violinist James Ehnes returns in the first Detroit performances of a concerto by celebrated orchestral and film composer James Newton Howard (The Hunger Games series), and guest conductor Cristian Măcelaru leads Rachmaninov's romantic Second Symphony.
Saturday, May 27
Los Angeles: 05:00 PM
Detroit, New York, Toronto: 08:00 PM
Sunday, May 28
London: 01:00 AM
Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Madrid, Rome: 02:00 AM
Moscow, Kiev, Jerusalem, Athens: 03:00 AM
Beijing: 08:00 AM
Tokyo: 09:00 AM
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Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)
♪ Pavane in F sharp minor, Op.50 (1887)
James Newton Howard (b. 1951)
♪ Violin Concerto (2015) (DSO premiere)
James Ehnes, violin
Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
♪ Symphony No.2 in E minor, Op.27 (1906-1907)
i. Largo – Allegro moderato
ii. Allegro molto
iv. Allegro vivace
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Cristian Măcelaru
Live from Orchestra Hall, Max M. Fisher Music Center, Detroit
Saturday, May 27, 2017, 8:00 PM EDT (UTC-4)
Sunday, May 28, 2017, 03:00 AM EEST (UTC+3)
Live on Livestream
|Photo by Benjamin Ealovega|
In the 2016-2017 season James continues his cross-Canada recital tour in celebration of his 40th birthday, performs the complete Bach Sonatas and Partitas in Stresa, Montreux, Los Angeles, Liverpool, and Amsterdam, and joins the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra on a tour of China and the National Arts Centre Orchestra on a tour of Eastern Canada. James also holds artist residencies with the Melbourne Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, l'Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, and the Scotia Festival, undertakes two tours with the Ehnes Quartet, and leads the winter and summer festivals of the Seattle Chamber Music Society, where he is the Artistic Director.
New and upcoming CD releases include a disc of works by Debussy, Respighi, Elgar and Sibelius as well as a recording of Beethoven's Sonatas Nos. 6 and 9 ("Kreutzer") with pianist Andrew Armstrong, the Sibelius and Schubert "Death and the Maiden" quartets with the Ehnes Quartet, and the complete works of Beethoven for violin and orchestra with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Andrew Manze. His recordings have been honored with many international awards and prizes, including a Grammy, a Gramophone, and 11 Juno Awards.
James Ehnes was born in 1976 in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. He began violin studies at the age of four, and at age nine became a protégé of the noted Canadian violinist Francis Chaplin. He studied with Sally Thomas at the Meadowmount School of Music and from 1993 to 1997 at The Juilliard School, winning the Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music upon his graduation. Mr. Ehnes first gained national recognition in 1987 as winner of the Grand Prize in Strings at the Canadian Music Competition. The following year he won the First Prize in Strings at the Canadian Music Festival, the youngest musician ever to do so. At age 13, he made his major orchestral solo debut with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal.
He has won numerous awards and prizes, including the first-ever Ivan Galamian Memorial Award, the Canada Council for the Arts’ Virginia Parker Prize, and a 2005 Avery Fisher Career Grant. James has received honorary doctorates from Brandon University and the University of British Columbia and in 2007 he became the youngest person ever elected as a Fellow to the Royal Society of Canada. In 2010 the Governor General of Canada appointed James a Member of the Order of Canada, and in 2013 he was named an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music, limited to a select group of 300 living distinguished musicians.
James Ehnes plays the "Marsick" Stradivarius of 1715. He currently lives in Bradenton, Florida with his family.
|Photo by Benjamin Ealovega|
James Newton Howard: Violin Concerto
Howard, who has written more than 100 film and television scores, including for "The Dark Knight" and "The Hunger Games" franchise, composed his first symphonic work, "I Will Plant a Tree", for the orchestra a few years ago. When St.Clair heard the solos that Howard had written for Joshua Bell and Hilary Hahn in "Defiance" and "The Village", he asked Howard, who is a member of the orchestra's board, for a violin concerto.
The composer said that it took him about a year and a half to write, and it does sound well and carefully put together. In three movements (fast-slow-fast) and 25 minutes in length, the concerto breaks no new ground except perhaps in that it has the courage to be resolutely tonal and pleasingly melodic. (But then what does "modern" mean in art? Maybe it means art that modern audiences respond positively to.)
In fact, Howard has written a rather folksy concerto. The opening theme recalls Gerswhin's "Summertime", with its bluesy tint and lilt. The composer calls the second movement's theme "a child's melody" – it is simple and lovely but never saccharine. The finale features a folk-like dance melody that could have come from Bartók or Holst. The entire piece has a kind of pastoral feel to it, of bright sunshine and green meadows.
Though the solo violinist is occasionally called upon to play fast and furious, this is not really a virtuoso showpiece, nor is it a competition between soloist and orchestra. Even the solo cadenzas are more meditative than showy. On first hearing, Howard seems not to have forced anything in the work. If the concerto sometimes sounds like movie music (we all know what that means without being able to define it), it also avoids cliché, is tightly-knit and warmly, not cinematically, orchestrated.
Source: Timothy Mangan, 2015 (ocregister.com)
Sergei Rachmaninov: Symphony No.2 in E minor, Op.27
Rachmaninov's Second Symphony reception history is full of paradoxes. His essential Russianness wowed the Soviets even when his notes were set down abroad. Premiered on January 26, 1908, the Second Symphony was written mainly in Dresden. It won the coveted Glinka Prize in the year Scriabin took second place with the Poem of Ecstasy but, as noted by Rachmaninov's biographer Geoffrey Norris, its true stature was "obscured for decades" by those excisions. Josef Stránský, Mahler's successor at the New York Philharmonic, claimed approval for 29 of them. The earliest recording, made by Nikolai Sokoloff in 1928 (digitally transferred for the Cleveland Orchestra's 75th-anniversary limited edition), lasts 46 minutes. Artur Rodzinski and Dimitri Mitropoulos trim similarly in their 1940s sets although, given Rachmaninov's passivity about the whole business, no standard template existed. Even the manuscript he prepared for the printer was long thought lost.
Like the First and Third, the Second Symphony opens with a motto theme, here expanded into a slow introduction establishing what most see as the work's trademark sonority, dark, yearning, strings to the fore. Recalling the bad old days, an inauthentic timpani thwack on the movement's final unison E on cellos and basses still resounds all too often. The argument having been initiated by those instruments, it makes better sense to end with their gruff sforzando unadorned.
The second movement invokes startling contrasts. A brilliant scherzo precedes a section whose broad molto cantabile melody is unexpected in context and sumptuous in effect, the indicated phrasing suggesting some degree of portamento. There follows a loud crash and an aggressive fugato episode, a repeat and a final shadowy harking back: an ABA-C-ABA structure, almost a third of which was conventionally hacked away until the 1970s, the big tune coming only once. The Adagio was also pruned back.
Launched in festive vein, the finale continues with a march-like episode and a thrusting lyrical efflorescence determined to break the mould of stepwise melodic motion. Plentiful reminiscence leads to a tintinnabular cascade across different sections of the orchestra (again sometimes missing). When the aspiring idea finally returns in heavily scored triumph it should not be heralded by a cymbal clash. Neither is there any explicit invitation to slow down. Like so many symphonic finales, this is the weakest of the four movements, tempting even those Russians hitherto dependable to wield the knife.
Source: David Gutman, 2015 (gramophone.co.uk)
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