No doubt about it: Pablo de Sarasate was a virtuoso par excellence who had audiences at Parisian salons lying at his feet. In their well-thought-out debut, however, Volker Reinhold and Ralph Zedler never aimed at mere virtuosity but above all brought to light the musical substance in a partnership’s performance “at eye level.” The much more rarely heard arrangements now being released on Vol. 2 complete their survey of the stupendous Spanish violinist’s work. Once again the two soloists surprise the listener with an absolutely boundless wealth of imagination brimming with catchy melodies from operas that were popular during Sarasate’s times but today have fallen into complete oblivion.
“Do you know the land where the lemon trees bloom?” – the title heroine’s romance from Ambroise Thomas’s Mignon even today continues to enjoy hit status. What Sarasate fashions from it – very unusual indeed – is a two-movement paraphrase with an intimate beginning followed by a rousing finale. It almost goes without saying that this work with breakneck capers offers ample opportunities for the display of the highest violinistic accomplishments – now that is absolutely breathtaking! Double Duty Faust is certainly Gounod’s most famous opera, and Sarasate arranged it not once but twice. In the early Souvenirs de Faust Marguerite occupies the foreground, while the later Nouvelle Fantaisie concerns itself more with Mephistopheles’ dire and demonic motifs. It was first toward the end of his life that Sarasate turned to Mozart’s operas. In his fantasy on Don Giovanni, however, one waits in vain for “Là ci darem la mano” (Give me your hand, my life). A wild idea offers compensation to the audience: for Don Giovanni’s canzonetta the violinist has to present the song and the mandolin part simultaneously.
Violinistic escapades like this did not emerge ex nihilo. Sarasate stated that he had to practice fourteen hours a day for thirty-seven years to gain renown as a genius, and even today his successors find themselves faced with the greatest challenges of all. Volker Reinhold presents this supreme virtuosity with charm and a noble sense of sound that makes us forget all the technical aspects. Together with Ralph Zedler on the magnificently dimensioned Steinway concert grand piano, he is able to take us on an entertaining journey back to yesteryear’s opera worlds and Parisian salons on this finely balanced Super Audio CD – of course in 2+2+2 sound and with genuine three-dimensionality!