S0707. NICANOR ZABALETA: Solo Harp Recital, incl. C.P.E. Bach, J.S.Bach, Mateo Albéniz, Isaac Albéniz, Krumpholtz, Hindemith, Halffter & Granados. (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-449, Live Performance, 21 Oct., 1970, Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“Nicanor Zabaleta resolves the enigmas of the harp as few others do, which may explain why almost half a houseful of listeners fought their way through Thursday's snowstorm to hear the 80-year old Spaniard play at Alice Tully Hall. The harp's rainbow of overtones both expands and limits it as a solo instrument, creating great washes of resonance that color the music but at the same time cloud its melodic progress. Mr. Zabaleta's most impressive feats were in the four movements of a Bach suite (taken from the violin Partita in E) where the echoes were deftly subdued and Bach's contrapuntal networks emerged with great clarity.”
- Bernard Holland, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 25 Jan., 1987
“Zabaleta was born in 1907 of Basque parents in San Sebastian, northern Spain. He came from an artistic background and music was very much part of family life. At the age of eight he spotted a harp in the window of an antique shop and expressed a wish to play the instrument. He had his first lessons from the harpist of the local symphony orchestra; later he took lessons in Madrid Conservatoire and when he was 12 he went to Paris to study with the great Marcel Tournier. At the age of 20, on completing his studies, Zabaleta gave two important solo recitals in Paris. However, he did not see himself as a soloist and so returned to Madrid, where he supported himself as an orchestral musician playing in theatre, opera and symphony orchestras. In 1934 he left an increasingly troubled Europe for the Americas, where he established himself as a soloist.
In 1951 he returned to Europe. He gave a number of highly acclaimed recitals that year, attracting the attention of leading conductors. He was soon signed up by Deutsche Grammophon and began a distinguished recording career. From his base in San Sebastian he toured the world, giving recitals and appearing as soloist with leading orchestras. In later years he gave master-classes and was a regular jury and committee member of the International Harp Competition in Israel, though he never taught on a regular basis.
Throughout his professional life he researched the harp repertoire, making important discoveries of unknown or forgotten music. Meanwhile contemporary composers wrote works for him - Ginastera, Krenek, Milhaud, Tailleferre and Villa-Lobos among others. In 1979 Zabaleta celebrated with Deutsche Grammophon the sale of a million discs. He recorded all the principal works in the repertoire from the 17th and 18th centuries and Spanish music of all periods as well as the big concertos. Zabaleta's clarity, intelligence and intimacy of approach have made him a household name and an example to young generations of harpists. Zabaleta was regarded by many as the greatest harpist this century.”
- THE INDEPENDENT, 14 April, 1993