Sounds of Sarasate

Pablo de Sarasate’s violin showpieces evoke the sunny, exotic warmth of Spain. A violinist and composer, Sarasate (1844-1908) contributed greatly to the development of the violin. Here are a few legendary performances of his short, technically dazzling pieces.

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”28″ size_format=”px”]Zapateado[/typography]

We’ll start with a performance of Zapateado from Midori’s 1990 Carnegie Hall debut recital. I featured another piece from this recital in a past post. Zapato is the Spanish word for “shoe.” Zapateado is a dance which originated with native Mexicans and was discovered by Spanish explorers who brought it back to Europe. You’ll hear violinistic effects such as left hand pizzicato, up bow staccato and harmonics:

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”28″ size_format=”px”]Playera[/typography]

Here is a 1952 recording of Ruggiero Ricci playing Playera. He is accompanied on the piano by the legendary violinist and teacher,  Louis Persinger. Listen to the persistent underlying dance rhythm and the seductive vocal quality of the violin line:

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”28″ size_format=”px”]Romanza Andaluza[/typography]

One of my favorite recordings of Romanza Andaluza is Itzhak Perlman’s with Samuel Sanders on the piano:

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”28″ size_format=”px”]Zigeunerweisen[/typography]

Sarasate’s most famous piece may be Zigeunerweisen, or “Gypsy Airs.” Here is a 1959 recording of Michael Rabin with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra conducted by Felix Slatkin. Rabin’s life was cut short tragically, but his recordings cement his legacy as one of the twentieth century’s greatest violinists:

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”28″ size_format=”px”]Share your favorite recordings.[/typography]

Leave a comment in the thread below with your thoughts on these performances. Also, share your favorite Sarasate recordings. Which violinists do you particularly admire and why?