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Robert Maxham
Fanfare, September 2012

Naxos’s series of music by Pablo Sarasate includes two volumes of pieces for violin and orchestra…played by Tianwa Yang and Markus Hadulla.

In the Boléro that opens the program, Yang displays the pure, clear tone and breathtaking panache that has made so strong an impression in the earlier installments. Joseph Gold’s informative, insightful, and apparently authoritative notes relate that Sarasate dedicated it to Martin Marsick. Taken at a rapid clip, it’s a showstopper—a term that might be applied to almost anything, even the most reflective of the numbers, in the volume.

The Introduction and Fandango numbers among the four longer pieces. Yang captures the listener’s attention at once in the bold opening gestures that lead to the dance proper, driven forward by triplets, later interspersed with pizzicatos, leading ultimately to one of Sarasate’s brilliant conclusions. Again, Yang sounds almost preternaturally clean…The Fantasy-Caprice…combines bravura with sultry passages in double-stops, which allow Yang and Hadulla to shift gears repeatedly—and effectively. Yang plays the swirling figuration with a lightness that’s again reminiscent of the composer’s own style, and the repeated notes with razor sharpness.

…Airs écossais presents a series of lilting melodies that sound even more ethnic than those Max Bruch borrowed in his Scottish Fantasy, decorating them with cascading octaves, tangy double-stops, and running passages, all of which provide Yang with fodder for her technical canon. The engineers have provided vibrant and balanced recorded sound in the two programs…it should be required listening for violinists and those who have collected the earlier installments…it’s still fresh and highly attractive… © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Brian Reinhart
MusicWeb International, July 2012

…it’s a terrific CD. There’s wonderful music here, particularly the delicious all-muted Le Sommeil Op 11—listen to Yang’s violin sing beginning at 2:40!. The same goes for the newly-published Los pájaros de Chile, which Sarasate wrote with exotic flourish on a South American tour. The opening Boléro gives Tianwa Yang a chance to show off her proficiency at basically every challenge a violinist faces. All of them are demonstrated with light-heartedness and even humor. The Zortzico is a transcription of a tune by José Maria de Iparraquirre. It wastes no time introducing one of the irresistibly lovely tunes this CD overflows with. Sarasate springs another on us, sung by Yang with expansive poetry and exquisite vibrato, about two minutes into the Fantaisie-Caprice. Les Adieux is, arguably, not merely a perfect piece to end the program, but a perfect piece, full stop. Throughout the disc, Yang shows off her typical combination of extreme virtuosic ability—listen to the ease of her harmonics in Los pájaros—and heart-on-sleeve fervor. There is, as always, a passion and verve in her playing which feels very old-fashioned, like she stepped out of a time machine from the days when outsized musical personalities were draped in a thick mono hiss. The music does not demand much of Hadulla, except in Sarasate’s often elegant introductions, which he renders as sensitively as if he were accompanying lieder.

…Sarasate’s music continues to impress—the man apparently couldn’t write a worthless trifle, for they all give up pleasures—and Tianwa Yang continues to demonstrate that she is one of the most sensational violin talents of the new century. She gives everything she plays grand emotional sweep, or call it soul, so you hear both dazzling virtuosity and, more precious, super-heated all-in commitment. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Elaine Fine
American Record Guide, July 2012

…the playing is extraordinary. This volume seems to hold some of Sarasate’s “easier” pieces (pieces that demand less virtuosity) and some of his most difficult. The Fantasy-Caprice…asks the violinist to do things with the bow that don’t even seem possible. The finale of the piece calls for a series of tremolos to be played with a ricochet saltato. While the bow is scrubbing back and forth as fast as it can, a certain flick of the wrist makes it bounce, making a crisp, spiccato-like sound.

Yang is a phenomenon, and Handulla is a fine accompanist. Anyone who has heard previous volumes will want this one, and anyone who has never heard Yang should get this recording. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online

Geoff Adams
Otago Daily Times, June 2012

This is volume three of Pablos Sarasate’s music for violin and piano from Naxos, featuring virtuoso Chinese violinist Yang.

The composer was a superb violinist…so he often makes technical demands but his music is lyrical. The opening Bolero Op.30 is enough to convince that Yang will thrill and dazzle the ears as needed, while finding sensitive sympathies with the lyricism.

Other standouts are Serenade Andelouse, Reverie, Fantaisie-Caprice and Caprice sur Mireille de Gounod.

Bird-call harmonics in Los Pajaros de Chile are a delightful feature. Intonation is always impeccable, in double-stopping passages and those stunning displays of bowing in fiendishly difficult places. Yang plays all with ease—beautifully recorded. © 2012 Otago Daily Times Read complete review

Edward Greenfield
Gramophone, June 2012

Yang’s Sarasate traversal continues

The young Chinese violinist Tianwa Yang has made a speciality of playing and recording the spectacular violin works of the legendary virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate.

Her gifts are ideally suited to such a task with her flawless intonation, not least in the many passages involving high harmonics in the most extreme register. She is also brilliant in giving the many Spanish dance rhythms a winning lilt, so that this essentially trivial music is presented full of charm. One simply marvels and enjoys.

She begins with a delicious Boléro, with the main tune typically given a reprise on high harmonics. The Sérénade andalouse brings plentiful double-stopping and a waltz-like middle section, while Le sommeil (‘Sleep’) starts wth a hushed piano solo before the violin’s gentle melody begins. Rêverie is aria-like in construction with a waltz as the final section…

Such a disc can easily be dismissed but, as played by Yang, with well-sprung accompaniment from Markus Hadulla and clear, well-focused recording, it would be churlish to dismiss the delights of the disc. © 2012 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

David Hurwitz, May 2012

The virtuoso violin repertoire can sound shallow if not downright irritating, especially when it calls for reams of potentially senseless figuration, as in the bird-like harmonics in Los pájaros de Chile, or even in the opening Boléro…her [Tianwa Yang’s] unfailingly pure intonation and light touch keeps such effects from sounding tiresome, while her uncloying lyricism…provides a welcome respite from the dash and fire of the more dazzling numbers.

Markus Hadulla, by the way, is a fine accompanist; kind to his partner but certainly not “second fiddle”…whether you want a lot or a little, you’re sure to be charmed. © 2012 Read complete review

Julian Haylock
BBC Music Magazine, May 2012

Most of the pieces featured here are virtually unknown to all but the most dedicated of violin aficionados, yet they contain a number of gems, including the Fantaisie-Caprice in which Yang throws off merciless chains of double stops and finger-crippling arabesques with scintillating aplomb…Yang proves simply inimitable…Bravo! © 2012 BBC Music Magazine

John Whitmore
MusicWeb International, April 2012

Anyone interested in stunning violin artistry should buy this amazing disc straightaway. It’s one of the best things I’ve heard in a long time. I hadn’t come across Tianwa Yang’s Sarasate series for Naxos before but I will certainly search out the other discs as a matter of some urgency. Her playing is simply extraordinary—no wonder she’s been described as “A Pride of China”. This playing is supremely musical. Dazzling, all the same, but it’s the musicianship that’s the primary focus. Tianwa Yang’s sound is beautiful. At no point in this 79 minute programme is there a hint of strain. The tone remains perfect even during the harmonics, double-stopping passages and those dazzling displays of bowing contained in the fiendishly difficult Fantaisie-Caprice. All the notes are perfectly in place but it’s all so lyrical, sensitively shaped and touching. Intonation is impeccable. It really is that good.

Many of the works on the disc are new to me. Sarasate has certainly written some really memorable, tuneful pieces. I will regularly return to them again. Listening to his music, I find it more enjoyable and elegant than that of Paganini. It’s obviously very taxing from a technical standpoint. On the other hand it never reaches the point where you feel that the writing is right on the edge of becoming unplayable with those uncomfortable sounds that can emanate even from the bows of the world’s finest players. I am thankful that Ms Yang, very ably supported by Markus Hadulla, has committed this wonderful music to record. There’s a great variety in Sarasate’s writing, ranging from the dazzling virtuosity of Fantaisie-Caprice to the lyrical elegance of Boléro and the singing melodic inspiration to be found in Rêverie and Prière et berceuse.

The recording is warm, detailed and resonant with a nice, beefy piano sound. A joy to listen to in fact.

A final thank you and a plea to Naxos and their engineering team: I would love to hear Ms Yang in the Nielsen and Sibelius concertos. More please! © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review, April 2012

SARASATE, P. de: Violin and Piano Music, Vol. 2 (Tianwa Yang, Hadulla) 8.570192
SARASATE, P. de: Violin and Piano Music, Vol. 3 (Tianwa Yang, Hadulla) 8.570893

the two newest Sarasate violin-and-piano recordings by Tianwa Yang and Markus Hadulla do repay a series of repeated listenings. For one thing, the technical demands of the music make it fascinating to hear Yang, again and again, overcome the barriers that Sarasate set for himself; for another, the piano parts here, especially the introductions, are more substantive than in similar compositions by many 19th-century virtuosi, and Hadulla handles them very well indeed. Furthermore, Sarasate was an accomplished melodist, making both his original works and the ones he based on the creations of other composers pleasantly enjoyable to hear…Nearly all of Volume 2 of this Naxos series consists of opera paraphrases and opera-tunes sequences; Caprice sur “Mireille” de Gounod from Volume 3 is a work of the same type. These pieces range from out-and-out pastiches such as Homenaje a Rossini and Fantaisie de concert sur “La forza del destino” (the latter being Sarasate’s Op. 1) to lovely bel canto works such as Gavota de Mignon and elegant and technically impressive creations such as Fantaisie de concert sur “Martha.” The non-operatic pieces on both CDs are uniformly well-constructed and require considerable technical proficiency, but many are musically inconsequential. Among the exceptions are Mélodie roumaine, based on tunes from Transylvania; Boléro, a wistful and delicate version of the dance; Fantaisie-Caprice, which requires some extraordinarily difficult bowing; and Les Adieux, a tender and wistful work rather than a bright display piece. © 2012 Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2012

We have reached the third volume in Pablo Sarasate’s complete music for violin and piano featuring the brilliant young Chinese violinist, Tianwa Yang. Born in Spain in 1844, Sarasate was, like Yang, a young violin super-star of his generation, having launched himself as a touring virtuoso at the age of fifteen. As a teenager he also studied composition at the Paris Conservatoire, but writing music eventually came from a need to have works of such difficulty that his performances would keep ahead of the field. They were not all unrelenting showpieces, a number of tracks on the present disc of a quiet and uncomplicated nature, Le Sommeil, having that melancholia fashionable at the time, and a flowing lyricism characterises Reverie. Others, such as the Fantasie-Caprice, were intended as a visual spectacle as the bow would fly across strings at a dizzying speed, while he would have intrigued his audiences with the long passages on harmonics imitating birds in Los pajaros de Chile. It is made easy by retakes in the recording studio, but would be fiendish in concert performances, and remained unknown until recent times. There is the obligatory opera fantasy in the form of the Caprice sur Mireille de Gounod, an opera that today is little known outside of France, the score dancing with vivacity, more pleasing than demanding. The disc comes to a rather sad ending with an outpouring of grief in Les adieux. Yang…is a quite remarkable young violinist. Certainly she could not wish for a more responsive partner, the young German, Markus Hadulla, ever attentive to her every inflection, adding weight and his own sparkling dexterity when required. First class sound and good programme notes. © 2012 David’s Review Corner

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