Violinists Adele Anthony and Gil Shaham share many passions. Along with their personal relationship (they are married) and careers as performing artists, they both feel a deep connection to the music of Pablo de Sarasate (1844-1908), the legendary Spanish violinist and composer whose colorful dance- and song-inspired works are not only enormously entertaining and irresistibly appealing, but also full of sometimes hair-raising technical challenges. Following a number of concert performances at home and abroad dedicated to the composer’s music, Adele and Gil recorded many of their favorites for a new album, Sarasate: Virtuoso Violin Works, which will be released by Canary Classics – the label Gil founded in 2004 – on Tuesday, September 29. Gil and Adele will celebrate the release by performing an all-Sarasate program at the popular downtown music club (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York City .
Adele and Gil used the occasion of Sarasate’s centenary in 2008 to pay tribute to the revered master’s work. One highlight of their activities included a November concert at New York ’s Lincoln Center , broadcast live on public television, at which a much-surprised Gil was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize, presented to him by his friend and colleague conductor Gustavo Dudamel. The season’s festivities culminated in “¡Sarasateada!” – a series of Sarasate concerts in Valladolid , Spain , which were recorded for this CD release.
“Sarasate’s compositions are full of imagination and melody, impeccably clean and concise. He was very respected in his day and was, in many ways, the heir to Paganini. Many great composers dedicated their works to him – Saint-Saëns, Bruch, Lalo, and others. And he was a pioneer – the first to bring the rich music and dance of the Spanish vernaculars to the concert stage. He was a Spanish aristocrat from the Basque country who was honored by the Queen. At the same time, he was loved worldwide by professional and amateur musicians, as well as by the public at large. Sarasate basically wrote three genres of music: Spanish dances, opera transcriptions, and original compositions. The new recording gives a sampling of each of these and we hope that listeners will find as much to love in this music as we do.” -Gil Shaham
Adele Anthony, who makes her debut on the Canary Classics label with this recording, adds:
“Like many violinists I grew up with Sarasate, attempting to master some of his works, which offer a combination of melody, violinistic idiom, and elegance and are often evocative of his native Spain . While exploring his music I became more and more impressed by his diversity and imagination, especially as presented in his original work Song of the Nightingale. To me, this piece is exceptionally beautiful as well as thoughtfully presented. I always enjoy playing Sarasate because he uses violin techniques so organically that the music miraculously emerges.”
Following in the footsteps of the showman Paganini, Pablo de Sarasate was the last of the 19th-century larger-than-life virtuosos. His seemingly limitless technique was a factor that flowed into his compositions and imbued them with a natural bravura that demands the most from those who perform them. The new release features both the popular and the unexpected. Sarasate’s “Carmen” Fantasy (given a red-blooded live performance by Gil with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León), Zapateado, the raucous cowboy dance, and Introduction and Tarantella are works that have challenged violinists for decades and never fail to dazzle audiences. Lesser known are such wonderful works as Song of the Nightingale, Airs écossais, and Gavota de “Mignon”, which further demonstrate the variety of his compositional gifts. The disc concludes with the winsome stratospheric duo Navarra, a folk song derived from Navarre , Sarasate’s region.