Throughout the history of music, many composers have had encounters with performers that would shape much of their output for years to come. Brahms had Joachim, Shostakovich had Rostropovich, and Lalo had Sarasate. In fact, Sarasate was the impetus for a great many violin compositions in the 19th century, but his impact on Lalo's writing was perhaps the most significant. The little-known Op. 20 Concerto was Lalo's first major success, followed immediately by the perennially appreciated Op. 21 Symphonie espagnole. The final work Lalo wrote specifically for Sarasate is the Fantaisie norvégienne, which came four years after Symphonie espagnole. While the middle composition has endured as a violinist and audience favorite far more than the outer two works, all three were clearly written with Sarasate's legendary technical prowess and passionate, Romantic playing. This BIS album features violinist Jean-Jacques Kantorow performing with the Granada City Orchestra under Kees Bakels. Kantorow's playing possesses many of the characteristics listeners may imagine when thinking of Sarasate: meticulous intonation, intense vibrato, dazzling bow technique, deft glissandos into big shifts, and gripping interpretive skills. The only thing that falls a bit short of expectations is Kantorow's sound, which, though always audible over the sensitive orchestral accompaniment, is not as big, robust, or powerful as might be hoped for. Still, finding all three of these works together on one album performed by a clearly gifted artist is a rare treat, and listeners are encouraged to check it out.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Concerto for violin & orchestra, Op. 20|
|Symphonie espagnole, Op. 21|