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Sarasate: Virtuoso Violin Works / Shaham, Anthony


Release Date: 09/29/2009 
Label:  Canary Classics   Catalog #: 7   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Gil ShahamAdele AnthonyAkira Eguchi
Conductor:  Alejandro Posada
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Castille and Leon Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

For those who admire Sarasate perhaps as much as did Sherlock Holmes, and for those who admire Shaham, this collections should be downright self-recommending, but such energy and polish, combined with ruddy warmth, do the performers bring to this music that it might serve as an introduction to the composer for almost any listener. Urgently recommended across the board.

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SARASATE Carmen Fantasy. 2 Song of the Nightingale. 1 Read more Habanera. Zapateado. Zortzico. 2 Zigeunerweisen. 2 Airs écossais. 1 Romanza andaluza. Capricho vasco. Gavota de Mignon. Introduction and Tarantella. 1 Navarra 1,2 Gil Shaham (vn); Akira Eguchi (pn); Adele Anthony (vn); 1 Alejandro Posada, cond; 2 Castille and León SO 2 CANARY 7 (76:22)


Gil Shaham’s performances of Sarasate’s music (televised in Live from Lincoln Center's “At the Penthouse” series—Shaham’s performance from November 2008) and his appearances at the ¡Sarasateada! in Valladolid 2008 should perhaps have led listeners to expect this program of Sarasate on Shaham’s label, Canary. The Carmen Fantasy, Zortzico, Zigeunerweisen , and Navarra , with orchestra, all come from live performances at the 2008 festival, and he also recorded the other pieces, with piano, at Valladolid.


In the Carmen Fantasy , Shaham offers a hot-blooded brand of Sarasateana, with headlong, impassioned virtuosity (and only occasionally grinding in the double-stops and chords) that may not recall the Sarasate either of the descriptions of his playing or of the recordings from 1904 (he’d recorded Zigeunerweisen on a cylinder in 1898), which, in any case, would be hard to imitate. Shaham includes in the mix a few compositions that may be less familiar to general listeners, such as the Song of the Nightingale , which, though as Eric Wen remarks may not be fraught with virtuosic hurdles, still sounds characteristic of the composer’s violinistic style, with pervasive harmonics. In this case, as in Hubay’s Zephyr , they frequently provide highlights to the tops of passages, although they carry the thematic material itself on occasion; Shaham plays them with easy grace. Ruggiero Ricci, Dynamic 94, didn’t impart to them the same silvery purity, though his trills approach birdsong closer than do Shaham’s. He returns to familiar territory in the Habanera , which he sets on fire with the glowing G string of this 1699 Polignac Stradivari and by means of frequent, heady changes of tempo. He makes use of rhetorical pauses, as he did in his televised performance of Zapateado , which he plays in Canary’s program with enough gusto to prevent changing tempos from sounding fussy, and to render the sections in harmonics and pizzicato particularly infectious.


The Zortzico , “Adios montañas mias,” appears with orchestral accompaniment. Oistrakh’s performance with Yampolsky from 1951 reveals the underlying similarity of this piece to Fritz Kreisler’s Viennese pastries, but the general heaviness of the arrangement and of Shaham’s performance of it nearly obliterates this similarity. This hot-blooded approach shows Zigeunerweisen (also with orchestra) to much greater advantage; Shaham’s ardor in the improvisatory first section suggests Gypsy campfires with its rhapsodic freedom, its striking alternation of registers, and even its occasional swooping portamento. While not so bright and sprightly as Sarasate’s own performance of the finale (on Opal 9851, for example), Shaham’s exudes irresistible energy.


Airs écossais , another of the three relatively unfamiliar works on the program, also appeared in Rachel Barton Pine’s Scottish collection (Çedille 83, 29:1). While it may not offer such barn-burning entertainment as Zigeunerweisen , it combines at least the spirit of Scottish fiddling in its lively sections with Sarasate-like embellishments of the melodic lines. In these, Shaham struts with aplomb. In the Romanza andaluza , however, he takes so many liberties with tempos and such a deliberate tempo overall that the work’s élan seems diminished (compare Milstein’s incomparable dash). Similarly, Shaham’s first section of Capricho vasco seems to lack forward momentum, though he acquits himself in the second with stylish elegance and brings the piece to a close with breathtaking, sparkling virtuosity that recalls Sarasate’s own. Gavota de Mignon , the third of the less frequently played of the composer’s works, sets the familiar number from Thomas’s opera in an ingratiating violinistic setting, replete with all the virtuosic razzle-dazzle that characterizes the most stunning of Sarasate’s showpieces; Shaham proves himself more than equal to the task of making something significant of this lightweight though appealing miniature.


Milstein chose the Introduction and Tarantella for his last recital, and Shaham brings a comparable tonal warmth and exuberant energy to this brilliant, almost archetypal, example of the composer’s œuvre . David and Igor Oistrakh recorded the Navarra several times (once with orchestra), Aaron Rosand played it with himself, and Campoli chose Belinda Bunt as his partner, but none of them brought so much exotic color to the score as do Shaham and his wife Adele Anthony (she also plays a Stradivari—a relatively late one from 1728).


The recordings with piano represent Shaham and his sympathetic accompanist, Akira Eguchi, close up in clear recorded sound, a sound ideal that the engineers in the live performances with orchestra could hardly duplicate. For those who admire Sarasate perhaps as much as did Sherlock Holmes, and for those who admire Shaham, this collections should be downright self-recommending, but such energy and polish, combined with ruddy warmth, do the performers bring to this music that it might serve as an introduction to the composer for almost any listener. Urgently recommended across the board.


FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

1. Carmen Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra/Piano, Op. 25 by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Gil Shaham (Violin)
Conductor:  Alejandro Posada
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Castille and Leon Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1883 
Length: 11 Minutes 10 Secs. 
2. El canto del ruiseñor, Op. 29 by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Adele Anthony (Violin), Akira Eguchi (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1885 
Length: 8 Minutes 10 Secs. 
3. Spanish Dances (2) for Violin and Piano, Op. 26: no 2, Dance in C by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Akira Eguchi (Piano), Gil Shaham (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1882 
Length: 4 Minutes 55 Secs. 
4. Spanish Dances (2) for Violin and Piano, Op. 23: no 2, Zapateado by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Akira Eguchi (Piano), Gil Shaham (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880 
Length: 3 Minutes 23 Secs. 
5. Zortzico for Violin and Piano, Op. 39 by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Gil Shaham (Violin)
Conductor:  Alejandro Posada
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Castille and Leon Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1898 
Length: 3 Minutes 59 Secs. 
6. Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20 by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Gil Shaham (Violin)
Conductor:  Alejandro Posada
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Castille and Leon Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878 
Length: 8 Minutes 21 Secs. 
7. Airs écossais, Op. 34 by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Adele Anthony (Violin), Akira Eguchi (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892 
Length: 8 Minutes 44 Secs. 
8. Spanish Dances (2) for Violin and Piano, Op. 22: no 1, Romanza andaluza by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Akira Eguchi (Piano), Gil Shaham (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879 
Length: 4 Minutes 54 Secs. 
9. Caprice basque, Op. 24 by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Gil Shaham (Violin), Akira Eguchi (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1881 
Length: 6 Minutes 37 Secs. 
10. Gavotte on themes from Thomas's "Mignon," Op. 16 by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Gil Shaham (Violin), Akira Eguchi (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Length: 2 Minutes 31 Secs. 
11. Introduction and Tarantella, Op. 43 by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Akira Eguchi (Piano), Adele Anthony (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1899 
Length: 5 Minutes 17 Secs. 
12. Navarra for 2 Violins and Piano, Op. 33 by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Gil Shaham (Violin), Adele Anthony (Violin)
Conductor:  Alejandro Posada
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Castille and Leon Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1899 
Length: 6 Minutes 49 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Carmen Fantasy, Op. 25: I. Introduction: Allegro moderato
Carmen Fantasy, Op. 25: II. Moderato
Carmen Fantasy, Op. 25: III. Lento assai
Carmen Fantasy, Op. 25: IV. Allegro moderato
Carmen Fantasy, Op. 25: V. Moderato
El canto del ruisenor (The Song of the Nightingale), Op. 29
Spanish Dances, Op. 26: No. 2. Habanera
Spanish Dances, Op. 23: No. 2. Zapateado
Zortzico d'Iparaguirre, Op. 39 (orch. by L. Blech)
Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20 (version for violin and orchestra)
Airs ecossais, Op. 34
Spanish Dances, Op. 22: No. 1. Romanza andaluza
Caprice basque, Op. 24
Romance et Gavotte de Mignon, Op. 16: Gavotte
Introduction and Tarantella, Op. 43
Navarra, Op. 33
Muiniera, Op. 32

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