Violin Sonata No. 2 (Ysaÿe)

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The Sonata for Solo Violin, Op. 27, No. 2 "Jacques Thibaud" is a sonata in four movements from Six sonatas for solo violin by Eugene Ysaÿe, each one dedicated to one of Ysaÿe's contemporary violinists.

Characteristics of the "Thibaud" sonata[edit]

  1. Obsession; Prelude
  2. Malinconia
  3. Danse des Ombres; Sarabande
  4. Les furies

Sonata No. 2 was dedicated to Jacques Thibaud, a friend of Ysaÿe's. The fact that Thibaud had lived in Ysaÿe's home, and the fact that Ysaÿe once lent his Guarnerius and Stradivarius to Thibaud when Thibaud's violin adjustment was not ready for concert, show Ysaÿe's admiration for his friend.[1]

I. Obsession - Prelude: Poco vivace[edit]

At the very beginning of the movement, Ysaÿe directly quotes the beginning of Prelude from J. S. Bach's Partita No. 3 in E major for solo violin. Much like Bach's E major Prelude, the movement consists of virtuosic sixteenth notes throughout, yet Ysaÿe's use of chromatic tonality clearly sets the piece in the genre of early 20th century music. Direct quotes from Bach's Prelude appear frequently, showing Ysaÿe's "obsession" with Bach's work. Another prominent theme is the "Dies Irae", a plainchant from the Catholic Mass for the Dead. Ysaÿe often employed his own symbols to indicate specific directions to players; for example, in the 74th bar of this movement, he uses one of his symbols over the first note of each beat to indicate that these notes should be played by the whole bow.

II. Malinconia - Poco lento[edit]

III. Danse des ombres - Sarabande (Lento)[edit]

The sarabande is based on a theme-and-variation pattern. The theme itself is again a variation of Dies irae. In the first few bars, the theme is played with pizzicato, making it sound as if played by guitar or lute. The movement consists of six variations, and each variation develops gradually to the end. In the first variation, for example, Ysaÿe instructs the player not to use vibrato, in order to maintain a simple tone. The last variation is composed of technically demanding thirty-second notes, all played forte. Then, the theme is repeated, but this time, it is played with the bow.

IV. Les Furies - Allegro furioso[edit]

The Dies Irae melody appears recurrently throughout the movement. Some of the Dies Irae figures are played sul ponticello, for instance in measures 41 and 58.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ysaye, Antoine. Ysaÿe, by his son Antoine. England: W.E.Hill and Sons, 1980.p.142

Bibliography[edit]

  • Hoaston, Karen D. Culmination of the Belgian Violin Tradition—The Innovative Style of Eugene Ysaÿe. 1999.
  • Martens, Frederick H. Violin Mastery – Talks with Master Violinists and /teachers. New York: Frederick A. Stokes, Co.,1919.
  • Ysaye, Antoine. Ysaye, by his son Antoine. England: W.E.Hill and Sons, 1980.