Sarasate Transcriptions

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COMPOSERS: Arrangements of Chopin; Gounod; Leclair; Handel; Raff; Moszkowski; Guignon; Mondonville et al
LABELS: (ii) and (iii) Naxos
ALBUM TITLE: Sarasate Transcriptions
WORKS: Works by Chopin; Gounod; Leclair; Handel; Raff; Moszkowski; Guignon; Mondonville et al
PERFORMER: Tianwa Yang (violin); Markus Hadulla (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.572709

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Sarasate was one of the most celebrated violinists of the late Romantic era. He was not a big-toned player in the manner of Joseph Joachim (dedicatee of the Brahms Concerto) or Adolph Brodsky (dedicatee of the Tchaikovsky), but specialised in pure-toned, sleight-of-hand effects such as eerie-sounding harmonics, flying spiccato (a bow-stroke of rapid brilliance) and chains of double-stops. Naturally the music he played, composed and arranged regularly employed these devices, and Tianwa Yang has all the technique required to make them sound spectacularly effortless, as witness her sparkling account of Chopin’s giddily exuberant Valse brillante, Op. 34 No. 3.

Yang’s tonal purity and transparency sounds particularly engaging in Sarasate’s enchanting realisations of the Baroque repertoire, most notably captivating sonata movements by the unaccountably neglected Jean-Pierre Guignon and Jean-Baptiste Senaillé, and favourites by Bach (‘Air on the G String’) and Handel (‘Ombra mai fu’). She also usefully includes Joachim Raff’s La fée d’amour, a heart-warming piece hardly ever played today yet once famous as Sarasate’s signature tune, and most beguiling of all the Souvenirs de Faust (based on Gounod’s opera), which features some meltingly seductive cantabile playing.

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Julian Haylock