Sarasate

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COMPOSERS: Sarasate
LABELS: Naxos
ALBUM TITLE: Sarasate
WORKS: Boléro, Op. 30; Fantaisie-Caprice; Caprice sur Mireille de Gounod, Op. 6; Airs écossais, Op. 34; Introduction et fandango, Op. 40 etc
PERFORMER: Tianwa Yang (violin), Markus Hadulla (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.570893

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Pablo de Sarasate is one of the few violinists worthy of mention in the same breath as the great Italian virtuoso Niccolò Paganini. The long list of works composed for the Spanish violinist includes Saint-Saëns’s Third Violin Concerto, Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy and Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole. Audiences flocked to wonder at the staggering velocity of Sarasate’s spiccato (bounced) bowing, his faultless tone and the unearthly purity of his intonation. Such qualities are paramount in the numerous pieces he composed, and inform Tianwa Yang’s sensational performance on this, the third volume in her complete series for Naxos of Sarasate’s violin and piano music.

Most of the pieces featured here are virtually unknown to all but the most dedicated of violin aficionados, yet they contain a number of gems, including the Fantaisie-Caprice, in which Yang throws off merciless chains of double stops and finger-crippling arabesques with scintillating aplomb. She produces astonishingly clean harmonics – whether natural or forced – and high-wire acrobatics (in emulation of birdsong) in Los pájaros de Chile.

Her confident rendering of this delightful piece seems all the more remarkable given it was only recently published. Yang proves simply inimitable, whether seductively evoking Sarasate’s homeland in the Sérénade andalouse, sustaining a radiantly delicate cantabile in the Op. 4 Rêverie or relishing the Scotch-snap inflections of the Airs écossais. Bravo!

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Julian Haylock