Young Chinese violinist Tianwa Yang, born in Beijing in 1987, recorded Paganini at age 13 and has been termed a prodigy. By the time she recorded this disc of Sarasate violin-and-orchestra favorites in 2008, she was less a prodigy than a veteran, with several Sarasate discs already to her credit. She seems to be getting better and better, and to be emerging as a major star. She's had the technical chops since her early teens, and, unlike with some Eastern technicians, there's no shortage of passion in her playing. What she adds this time around is control over a performance, and one involving a group of real Sarasate veterans at that; the Orquesta Sinfónica de Navarra was founded by Sarasate himself. Yang sets herself up as the star in the best sense. For example, in Sarasate's best-known orchestral showpiece Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20, (Gypsy Style), and in Mirarmar-Zortzico, Op. 42, she pushes the orchestra forward as the high point of the music approaches. Her tone in the Nocturne-sérénade, Op. 45, is exquisite. If one had to complain of something, it would be the lower register in the more purely Spanish pieces like Viva Sevilla!, Op. 38, where there isn't quite the mood of profound quiet that violinists of longer experience have brought to the music. But anyone who attended this program in concert would not only feel that it was worth the money, but also likely bring a friend along the next time. Sound, recorded in the orchestra's home hall in Pamplona, is above average, and at Naxos' discount price this album is nothing short of a raging bargain.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim