On January 19, the Atlanta Symphony, conducted by Principal Guest conductor Donald Runnicles, featured a program including:
Britten: Violin Concerto, Opus 15
Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Opus 55 (Eroica)
The soloist in the Britten was James Ehnes.
Mr. Ehnes is a Canadian violinist who has performed extensively internationally and has released several solo recordings. I had the pleasure of hearing the Ehnes string quartet last year in a noon-time performance at Mercer University in Macon, GA. It was, for me, one of the best chamber recitals last season. It included a powerhouse performance of a Bartok String Quartet. So as a result, I think I was predisposed to like Mr. Ehnes’ performance with the ASO. And, as fate would have it, I did. He plays with a rich, golden tone that is never strident. His bowing is precise and he and Maestro Runnicles seemed to have unified vision about the Britten.
The ASO performed the Eroica as one would expect, that is, with first class playing. This is one of Beethoven’s oft played works and sometimes it requires a special performance to make it special again. The ASO did just that.