Friday, August 31, 2012

Sarasate: Music for Violin and Orchestra Volume 1

Such mellifluous and delightful music deserves the widest possible exposure. There was a time when the typical violin recital (with piano) consisted primarily of this kind of music, roundly sneered at by snooty “artistes” who replaced it with penitential programs consisting of all the Bach Sonatas and Partitas at a sitting, or all the Brahms sonatas, or other forms of aural flagellation. Somewhere between seriousness unto death and cloying fluff there has to be a happy medium. The fact is that Pablo Sarasate was a very good composer of the virtuoso school, and these performances—always stylish and tasteful but technically brilliant—do him full justice.

The most popular item here will be Zigeunerweisen, but Airs espagnols and the Fantasie are more substantial still. La Dame Blanche is in fact a very beautiful opera, and Sarasate’s arrangement couldn’t be lovelier, or more affectingly played. Most of the other works have a Spanish flavor and reveal Sarasate in his element. 

Alternately vivacious and soulful, they are wonderful pieces and they hold no obvious terrors for Tianwa Yang. Whether she’s slipping a few harmonics into insanely fast passage-work, or firing off a volley of left-hand pizzicatos, she has all of this music under firm control. Ernest Martínez Izquierdo and the Navarra orchestra accompany with equal verve, and the sonics are excellent in all respects. --David Hurwitz., December 2010

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