Shaham Plays de Sarasate

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Although Gil Shaham built his reputation on warhorses like the Tchaikovsky and Brahms Concertos, this week's Full Rotation Album of the Week showcases the violinist's more flamboyant side, as he plays a collection of pieces by Spanish violinist and composer Pablo de Sarasate.

Released on Shaham's own Canary Classics label, the album--Pablo de Sarasate, Virtuoso Works for Violin--was recorded as part of a series of concerts in Valladolid, Spain in 2008, marking the 100th anniversary of Sarasate’s death. It is the product of hundreds of hours of research and study about the composer by both Shaham and his wife, the violinist Adele Anthony, who appears on four of the twelve tracks.

There's surprising diversity in Sarasate's idiom. Shaham brings a pure, singing tone to the clever operatic fantasies from Bizet's Carmen, and Ambroise Thomas's Mignon. He romps through some of the composer’s Spanish dance numbers, including the Zortziko "Adios Montanas mias," a Basque dance in 5/8 time, and the sultry Cuban Habanera. Shaham is particularly electrifying in Zigeunerweisen, Sarasate's most popular composition, which is based on gypsy themes. Anthony delivers stylish performances of her own, especially in the rarity, Song of the Nightingale (note the bird-song melody) and the fiery duet Navarra.

Pablo de Sarasate, Virtuoso Works for Violin, Gil Shaham and Adele Anthony, violinists, Akira Eguchi, the Orquesta Sinfonica de Castilla y Leon, Alejandro Posada, conductor (Canary Classics)

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