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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Which of Ysaÿe's Six Solo Violin Sonatas is your favorite?

May 13, 2011 at 7:11 PM

In preparing for the Starling-DeLay Symposium on Violin Studies, which begins at the end of this month at Juilliard, I've been taking a closer look at the Six Sonatas for Solo Violin by Eugène Ysaÿe, the turn-of-the-20th century Belgian violinist and composer who taught Josef Gingold, William Primrose, and Nathan Milstein, among many others.

Specifically, a pedagogy class by violinist Ray Iwazumi will focus on Sonatas No. 2 and No. 5, neither of which I've studied. I'm most familiar with the famous "Ballade," which is Sonata No. 3.

The more I look at these sonatas, the more interested I become. Not only are they harmonically interesting, but they give such a window into the violin technique of Ysaÿe, simply in the way he suggests achieving everything: the fingerings he uses, etc. It all, weirdly, works out. What a treasure.

So I'd like to mine your minds -- tell me, which is your favorite of these sonatas? Why is it so? Perhaps it's the only one you know, that that's all right, too.

If you need an excuse to familiarize yourself with these works, I will provide you some Youtube performance links, and you can use these as your basis to vote:

Sonata No. 1 (II. Fugato) (Ilya Kaler)

Sonata No. 2 (Obsession) (Julia Fischer)

Sonata No. 3 (Ballade) (Nikita Borisoglebsky)

Sonata No. 4 (Allemanda) (Leonidas Kavakos)

Sonata No. 5 (L'Aurore) (Augustin Hadelich)

Sonata No. 6 (Ray Chen)


From Bernard Reilly
Posted on May 13, 2011 at 8:54 PM

Very hard to choose a favorite here...they are all great in their own way.  And I love some over the other depending on who's playing it...that makes it even harder =)

From Nate Robinson
Posted on May 14, 2011 at 6:36 AM

 3 & 6 are my favorite sonatas.  I've only learned  the 'Ballade'. I recommend Yuval Yaron's recordings of these sonatas to everyone.

From Mark Roberts
Posted on May 14, 2011 at 1:37 PM

I like number four the best because it is the one that I am doing at the moment....

From susan eddlemon
Posted on May 15, 2011 at 3:17 PM

The No. #6 Sonata is quite accessible to general audiences (esp. if well played); both in terms of length and exuberance of musical mood.  The Isotone Players of Oak Ridge plan to program it in our concert commemorating the Belgian astrophysicist LeMaitre (father of the Big Bang theory).  Sonata #6 sounds a little like an exuberant "Big Bang"!

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