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Sarasate: Opera fantasies, Vol. 1 - Reinhold, Zedler

Sarasate: Opera fantasies, Vol. 1 - Reinhold, Zedler

MDG Scene  MDG 903 1819-6

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Chamber


Sarasate: Fantaisie sur Carmen de G. Bizet - Concert-Fantaisie pour Violon avec accompagnement de Piano, Op. 25; Fantaisie sur La Flute enchantée de W. A. Mozart pour Violon avec accompagnement de Piano, Op. 54; Le Freischütz. Opéra de C. M. de Weber - Fantaisie pour Violon avec accompagnement de Piano, Op. 14; Réminiscence de Martha de F. de Flotow - Morceau de Concert pour Violon avec accompagnement de Piano, Op. 19; La forza del destino. Opéra de G. Verdi - Fantaisie de Salon. Composée pour Violon avec accompagnement de Piano, Op. 1; Roméo et Juliette. Opéra de Ch. Gounod - Caprice pour Violon avec accompagnement de Piano, Op. 5

Volker Reinhold, violin
Ralph Zedler, piano


Audiophile Pleasure
The Magic Flute, Der Freischütz, Carmen ... when Pablo Sarasate stepped onto the stage with his instrument, a phenomenal fireworks display of violin virtuosity lit up the theater and rendered breathless a public always eager for sensations. This unique virtuoso’s fantasies on popular operas evidently brought him special delight. Volker Reinhold and Ralph Zedler have selected five other opera fantasies besides the famous Carmen Fantasy to share this musical pleasure with audiophile audiences.

Phenomenal Artistry
Sarasate did not shy away from new tones: Verdi’s La forza del destino was just two years old when Sarasate drew source materials from this opera for his first fantasy. And the young violin wizard hardly limited himself to a potpourri or to the best-known melodies. Instead, he sought material that he could put to use on the violin, did not follow the plot, and managed without some popular hits (which perhaps would have promoted sales). As a result, he produced a sensational work of art, just like that, as if by magic, showing his incredible instrumental capabilities in their best light.

Resourceful Mastery
The same is true of The Magic Flute – it is not a compendium of catchy melodies. While the Queen of the Night and Sarastro are excluded, Sarasate finds just the right sources in Tamino and Monostatos and especially in Pamina’s aria “Ach, ich fühl’s” for a most deeply moving and yet most highly brilliant new creation. Arrangements of Flotow’s Martha, Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette, and Weber’s Der Freischütz show us the Spanish virtuoso as a man with many interests and at the height of his times.

Special Feature
The Carmen Fantasy has continued to be Sarasate’s most popular work right through to the present. Absolutely astonishing indeed, how he presents the entire opera in a sort of melodious time-lapse photograph! What is more, all now for the first time in genuine 3D sound: MDG’s 2+2+2-SACD spirits the passionate Spanish violinist onto the stage of your own living room with true-to-life fascination.

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Review by John Broggio - December 20, 2013

This sequence of 6 freely arranged sequences from operas contain many of each work's "greatest hits". From the evidence of these works, there is good reason why (generally speaking) only Zigeunerweisen and his Carmen Fantasy (heard here in a version for piano accompaniment) remain staples of the violinists repertoire; the piano accompaniments are rather literal and lack any of the flair on display in the violin part. Similarly, the transitions between the internal sections of each piece are rather lacking in finesse when the more varied tonal palette of the orchestra is missing. Each work taken individually, maybe as an encore, no one would mind as much but all together, this is far too much of a not particularly good thing.

For such works to withstand repeated listening, one requires technically immaculate performers and ones that can convey the operatic dialogue via their fingers. Good though Reinhold and Zedler are, there are too many occasions when Reinhold's intonation in the hardest passagework doesn't stand the scrutiny afforded him by this recording. More seriously, both he and Zedler seem to project a complete misunderstanding of some of the dramatic context these fantasies seek to synthesize (when the writing allows this to happen - some virtuoso passages preclude such an attempt). Zedler in particular is not helped out by Sarasate's very lacklustre accompaniments but neither he nor Reinhold appear to be playing arrangements of pieces with vastly differing moods as Der Freischutz and Carmen.

The recording, as is often the case with smaller forces, is one of MDG's best efforts - the aural picture is marvellously believable and balances the musicians perfectly so that Reinhold's violin caresses the ear with ease.

Copyright © 2013 John Broggio and HRAudio.net

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