About this work
Regarded as perhaps the best of Sarasate's Spanish Dances, the Zapateado not only derives its rhythm and gestures directly from Spanish popular music, but serves as a catalog of string effects popular among late-nineteenth century virtuosi. The piano sets the tone with an exciting introductory passage, the right hand playing hints of a melody over a fast, pulsing left-hand accompaniment. (After this, the piano is reduced to a galloping but self-effacing accompaniment.) Immediately the violin picks up on the pulsing figure, with a staccato "revving up" that shoots into the high register and swings down again to turn this rhythmic figure into the basis of a lively melody, sweeping up and down the staff, extending into the instrument's highest reaches, and disintegrating into a flurry of pizzicato notes.
The violin then settles into a more melodic section, still fast, and closely related to the rhythmic material with which it entered. But it's still a showy passage, calling on momentary harmonics and littered with left-hand pizzicati. A more sustained but high-lying lyrical passage ensues, which Sarasate immediately varies, again running the notes into the violin's highest reaches. After a repeat of the section that followed the introduction, Sarasate allows the exhausted violinist to come to an abrupt halt with the briefest of codas.