Magazine article Strings

Exotic Showpiece Never Loses Its Luster

Magazine article Strings

Exotic Showpiece Never Loses Its Luster

Article excerpt


Sarasate's 'Zigeunerweisen' is an audience favorite that has stood the test of time

Born in Pamplona as the son of a military bandmaster, young Pablo de Sarasate (1844-1908) quickly progressed through the ranks, superseding his early teachers and landing at age 12 at the Paris Conservatoire as a pupil of Jean-Delphin Alard.

By 17, he was a much-traveled virtuoso, with hugely successful appearances throughout Europe and North and South America. Bruch, Dvorak, Lalo, Saint-Saëns, and Wieniawski all dedicated important works to him-his fame rests on his performances of bravura showpieces, including his own many compositions.

Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs) remains a staple of the violin virtuoso repertoire and, together with his Carmen Fantasy, is the most famous of Sarasate's works. Every fiddler aspires to play it, and it is never short of eager listeners.

Henle's exemplary new edition provides a pristine violin score and another idiomatically fingered and bowed by Ingolf Turban. The piano score is ideally spacious.

What is Zigeunerweisens allure? It makes no claims to profundity, yet it is hard to match for sheer verve and brilliance, presenting late romantic schmaltz at its most sparkling, replete with harmonic effects, dazzling passagework, double stops, pizzicato, and sensuous, elegant tunes. Thanks to the Internet, you can hear Sarasate's own inimitable 1904 rendition of this muchloved piece. Despite the poor quality of predigital age recordings, one gleans a vivid sense of his elegant style, sweet tone, and extraordinary virtuosity in lightning-fast passages. …

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