Ysaye sonatas

November 12, 2005 at 06:55 AM · Can anyone recommend their favorite interpretation of the Ysaye sonatas?

Replies (88)

November 12, 2005 at 07:52 AM · Kaler.

November 12, 2005 at 10:36 AM · Hey, I could recomend Oistrakh's or Vengerov recordings..but it's up to you.. there is many interesting things in Kremer's or Castleman's interpretations..

November 12, 2005 at 12:47 PM · Igor Oistrakh made a recording of the famous 3rd Sonata. I don't think it has been re-issued on CD's, and I have no idea if he has recorded the rest of them. But this particular performance is absolutely riveting (if you can find it).

November 12, 2005 at 03:35 PM · Shumsky

November 12, 2005 at 03:46 PM · For suberb musical interpretation I recommend Frank Peter Zimmermann on EMI. Kavakos is fantastic technically but not as interesting as Zimmermann.

November 12, 2005 at 04:16 PM · Kaler is my personal favorite.

November 12, 2005 at 04:57 PM · IMO, for musical deph, Zimmermann; for virtuosity,

Ricci, For the third sonata, David 0istrakh and Eugene Fodor

November 12, 2005 at 05:02 PM · Oistrakh has the best Ballade that I've ever heard. I really dislike Shumsky's recording. It's just a bunch of slop.

November 12, 2005 at 05:08 PM · I have Zimmerman's and I think it's a great recording!

November 13, 2005 at 04:15 PM · Hi,

If you can find it, the recording by Yuval Yaron is worth getting. Fantastic playing, and it's the only recording to contain the revisions entered by Ysaÿe into Gingold's score. So from a historical/musical standpoint, it is worth a lot.


November 13, 2005 at 05:31 PM · Michael Rabin. I heard Ballade and 4th (don't remember exactly the number, the one which was devoted to Kreisler). Great interpretation, too.

November 13, 2005 at 06:38 PM · As I mentioned before, it's the IGOR Oistrakh of the Ballade. His father's performance is great, but this is the one and only time I've heard Igor Oistrakh sound more compelling than his father (and everyone else). If anybody knows of it on CD, I'd appreciate the information. If he recorded any of the other sonatas, and they are at this level, wow.

November 13, 2005 at 07:51 PM · Frank Peter Zimmermann is so close to my soul...

November 13, 2005 at 07:49 PM · Sender; It is not strange; Igor IMO was an extraordinary and wrongly undervalueded violinist.

His Khatchaturian with Goosens is as good as any ofthe 4 papa's versions. His Bruch's first with papaconducting is my absolut favorite. His Wieniawsky2 is just fantastic.His Rakov first is IMO better than papa's. Had extraordinary recordings of Tchaik.Trio op.50 and Chausson's concerto.

And his old recording of the complete LvB sonatas

with his wife is a marvel (I've it on LP but lost


November 13, 2005 at 08:03 PM · Carlos: I agree. Igor is a super violinst who has lived in the shadow of his father. I haven't heard that many recordings of his, but the one's I've heard really are good. The problem is that because his approach is so similar to his father's (which is understandable, since David Oistrakh was his teacher), it's tough to listen to Igor without the presence of David intervening. I also recall talking to someone years ago who heard Igor Oistrakh many times and who felt he was very inconsistent (but that's second-hand information). I did hear a radio broadcast once of Igor playing the Ballade as an encore at a Carnegie Hall concert. What was funny about it was that the radio announcer had no idea what the piece was, and he was trying to talk his way around it. But Igor Oistrakh was great.

November 14, 2005 at 10:01 PM · RECOMMENDATIONS from Independent Producers, SKOWRONSKI: CLASSICAL RECORDINGS......to all Ysaye aficianados.

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November 15, 2005 at 07:29 AM · david yonan 2005

this exremely gifted violinist recorded them all, live at the Fine Arts Building, Chicago, 2005!

go to: www.davidyonan.com/forum/

November 18, 2005 at 10:24 PM · Kaler....drewl. he has an absolutely stunning interpretation of these sonatas. he makes it sound so easy. very deceivingly easy.

I'm sure David Yonan's would be very good. I saw him practicing the other day. He has a really strong pinky! ..and that sounds really weird. but he does!

November 18, 2005 at 10:36 PM · I just heard the Kaler recording for the first time today. It has become my instant favorite. And whoever said that the Shumsky was disappointing is right. I have that Shumsky recording, and it wore thin pretty quick. With Kaler, it's like hearing these pieces for the first time. I still like the Igor Oistrakh Ballade (and I still don't know if it's on CD). The Kaler is close enough; it's great. But if anyone out there has heard the I. Oistrakh, it is fantastic. The performances are so close to each other.

November 19, 2005 at 12:42 AM · My tastes are always changing with Ysaye, much like the impressionistic nature of the music itself I guess. Right now I really like the video of Vengerov playing the Ballade (and the Sibelius ain't half bad). For all six, besides Kaler, right now I like Popova's interpretation (which I only picked up a short time ago though it's been out for years).

November 19, 2005 at 06:42 AM · This is the first time I've heard Ysaye called impressionistic...

if you want to link it to a visual art movement, I'd be more inclined to say expressionist... Debussy comes to mind when one says impressionist.

November 19, 2005 at 09:23 AM · I have to disagree Pieter, but not totally. Please let me explain. My comments were made in passing and contained no real germ of intent.

My point, which clearly doesn't exist in the previous post, would be that one cannot classify Ysaye as either impressionist or expressionist (I believe that would be very difficult to do for even the most knowledgeable expert) with any finality. The Sonatas summarized/closed his life of premiering many impressionist works and one still hears in them, a typically West European mix of impressionism/expressionism that is totally different from the usually referenced Germanic form of expressionism (Schoenberg being the main focus), or strictly French.

Taking for example, the Belgian 'Les XX' exhibitions as perhaps the quintessential and exemplary body of the Belgian artistic movement from late 19th well into the 20th Century, we see that they moved from impressionism, to symbolism, to expressionism all within such a short spate of time that these influences overlapped, giving them more of an individualist quality, one that doesn't allow them to be ideally placed in either the French or German camp. If this indeed were not so, where could one place Debussy's last 'sonatas' in relation to Ysaye's?

In the Ysaye sonatas, for me, there still exists more the concern with nature-pictures (or, as I have seen them referred to in musicological studies and in a typically impressionistic mode, sketches) than the focus on an irrational human unconscious projection (typically expressionist).

For the 'Obsession' with it's Bach motif to be referred to solely as irrational is out of the question for me. What I hear instead is his 'obsession' with logic and aesthetic beauty, which are more the hallmarks of impressionism, n'est-ce pas? Granted, he can be periodized within expressionist currents, but I think this to be too easy a trail away from the truth.

Personally I know of no major work that uses Ysaye as an essential expressionist and, indeed, there are several written works which refer to both his impressionism and expressionism for the reasons I've noted. Give me a little time and I'll get some titles for you if you want?

November 19, 2005 at 06:44 PM · Hi,

Actually, the sonatas are meant to represent a synthesis of genres and styles in existence during Ysaÿe's career. The First is a neoclassical piece as is the second. It is not the same kind of neoclassicism as Stravinsky but Ysaÿe own take. The Ballade is really meant as a romantic work in the grand tradition. The Fourth Sonata is neoclassical also, but looks back to the tradition of the 1880's in France when pastiching was in vogue. There are allusions to the Bach d minor partita, a quote from the Kreisler Preludium and Allegro in the last movement, and the second movement alludes to the slow movement of the quartet by Vincent d'Indy as well as 18th century church music. The Fifth is Impressionistic, and obviously so, the dedicatee, Matthieu Crickboom having been the second violinist at the premiere of the Debussy quartet. The title of the movements "Aurore" and "Danse Rustique" are dead giveaways. The last is meant as a grand etude in the style of Lizst and other romantic composers, with allusions to the Spanish influence so present in French music of pre-WWI and also, as the dedicatee is a Spanish violinist, Manuel Quiroga.

The sonatas are a sythetis of the styles and influences and works of the many composers with whom Ysaÿe as associated during his career as a violinist, while they represent at the same a set of six sonatas inspired by Bach (the original inspiration was a performance of the first Bach sonata by Szigeti - hence the first sonata by Ysaÿe) as well as a compendium of the most modern violin technique of the time.


P.S. The Bach motif in Obsession is there because of it's thematic relationship to the Dies Irae (the head of the motif has the same melodic contour).

November 20, 2005 at 06:39 AM · Simply excellent commentary Christian!

It sounds as though you've worked through the Sonatas in more ways than one!

Have you read Ray Iwazumi's 'The Six sonates pour violon seul, op. 27 of Eugène Ysaye: Critical Commentary and Interpretive Analysis of the Sketches, Manuscripts, and Published Editions'?

November 20, 2005 at 04:11 PM · Hi Rick,

Thank you. I have not read this work, but would like to at some point, time permitting. It is nice to see some scholarship on Ysaÿe slowly adding itself. Until recently, there was but very little. Is this volume a book or dissertation?


November 21, 2005 at 02:24 AM · Christian, it's a dissertation. But hey, as you know, some of the best 'books' to be had are thanks to dissertation abstracts services.

November 29, 2005 at 08:53 PM · hi,

good point Christian.We should never forget for who were written these pieces and that they are closely related to the personality of the six violinists. In my oppinion Zimmerman has it all for this music although he lacks fantasy from time to time .Kavakos is flawless technical but he lacks generosity . I consider Shumski and Kremer pioneers so no comment. The Vengerov recordings are just........forget it it's just muscle and that's all. The "Ballade"? that's far from the spirit of Enescu...but that's ok.Depends on the taste. Has everybody heard Korcia? I wonder who's the first who will say they are the best. And Benjamin Schmid?And Zehetmair? interesting.....

November 29, 2005 at 09:02 PM · Carlos--

Good pick with Fodor. I figured I would be the only one recommending his recording the Ballade. Too bad that's the only one he has recorded, and too bad it's only on lp. Oh, well.

November 29, 2005 at 11:55 PM · Yes, Fodor IMO was a brillant violinist. Too bad

he made few recordings. The LP whith Ysaye's has also excelent Wieniawsky and Paganini, with very

solid technique. Do you have his Newport Classic CD?

November 30, 2005 at 12:02 AM · I have the Kaler recording, and I think it's awesome. However two weeks ago I was at a Hilary Hahn recital and in it she played the Ysaye Sonata No. 1. I thought her perfomance then was even one step above Kaler's recording. She played so magnificently and effortlessly yet fastidiously at the same time. I wish she would make a recording of these. She is becoming really good.

November 30, 2005 at 03:59 AM · Carlos--

I have every cd he's ever made, every record he's ever made, and one lp that's never been released to the public.

His Newport CD is great, but his Witches Brew is spectacular.

November 30, 2005 at 02:06 PM · Christopher -- I like your thought that Hilary should record the Ysaye sonatas. I think she should record all of the Hindemith for unaccompanied and accompanied violin. I think it is too bad that she is recording music for which there are already myriad great recordings and she does not add much. If she recorded some of the more obscure stuff, it would get a wider audience.

January 13, 2006 at 07:01 PM · Laurent Korcia

January 20, 2006 at 06:05 AM · Greetings to everyone participating in this "Ysaye forum!" I just joined violinist.com and this is my first entry in such a discussion. I have enjoyed reading everyone's comments and thought I'd add a few. For about 13 years I have been "obsessed" with Ysaye and began working on publishing my own edition of the Sonatas. I was motivated in particular by Ted Henkle's article in the Journal of The Violin Society of America "Ysaye's Six Sonates Pour Violon Seul: A Belated Proofreading." Though it was widely known that there were misprints in the only edition of the sonatas, Henkle actually was the first to publish a list (128 in all, according to Henkle). I began my own proofreading and found over 300, including some errors in Henkle's list. By now, many of you likely know about the recent publishing of an Urtext edition by Henle. This is a fantastic and quite thorough edition; however, there are about a dozen oversights and misprints that I have discovered in this outstanding edition and would be happy to share them with anyone interested (some are misprints in the accompanying critical commentary). In addition, there are some questionable decisions made by the editors. I have viewed in very careful detail the surviving manuscripts of 2, 3, and 6 that are in the collection at Juilliard. Currently, I am preparing a lecture recital on the sonatas that will complete my doctoral studies here in DC. This all relates to this discussion in that I additionally have collected all available recordings over the years. Here is what I have, if anyone is interested in discussing particular ones:


Ruggiero Ricci, 1974, Candide

Gidon Kremer, 1976, VMI

Charles Castleman, 1981, Music & Arts

Oscar Shumsky, 1982, Nimbus

Lydia Mordkovitch, 1988, Chandos

Yuval Yaron, 1990, Accord

Evgenia-Maria Popova, 1991, Leman

Mateja Marinkovic, 1992, Collins

Vilmos Szabadi, 1992, Hungaroton

Stéphane Tran Ngoc, 1994, REM

Frank Peter Zimmermann, 1994, EMI

Tomoko Kato, 1995, Denon

Vincenzo Bolognese, 1997, Arts

Philippe Graffin, 1997, Hyperion

Takayoshi Wanami, 1997, Somm

Leonidas Kavakos, 1999, BIS

Hana Kotková, 2002, Forlane

Thomas Zehetmair, 2004, ECM


Sonata No. 1

Bjarne Kristensen, 2000, Glissando (arranged for and performed on guitar, yikes!)

Sonata No. 2 “The Obsession”

Aaron Rosand, 1983, Audiofon

Arturo Delmoni, 1988, JMR

Ilya Kaler, 1995, Ongaku

Nikolaj Znaider, 1997, Cypres (live recording)

Bjarne Kristensen, 2000, Glissando (guitar!)

Maxim Vengerov, 2002, EMI

Sonata No. 3 “Ballade”

David Oistrakh, 1954, OVC/Vanguard

Michael Rabin, 1956, EMI

Ruggiero Ricci, 1979 (Live @ Carnegie Hall), Etcetera

Eugene Foder, 197? (LP)

Josef Rissin, 1986, Sound Star-ton

Leila Josefowicz, 1995, Philips

Ilya Gringolts, 1999, BIS

Antal Szalai, 2001, BMC

Maxim Vengerov, 2002, EMI

Sonata No. 4

Ruggiero Ricci, 1946 (Town Hall ’46), 111

Michael Rabin, 1956, EMI

Leila Josefowicz, 1995, Philips

Bjarne Kristensen, 2000, Glissando (guitar!)

Maxim Vengerov, 2002, EMI

Sonata No. 5

Bjarne Kristensen, 2000, Glissando (guitar!)

Sonata No. 6

Aaron Rosand, 1983, Audiofon

Josef Rissin, 1986, Sound Star-ton

Ilya Gringolts, 1999, BIS

Maxim Vengerov, 2002, EMI

Based on the above discussion, I am now aware of recordings by Laurent Korcia and Benjamin Schmid. Did Ilya Kaler record all 6? I only have him doing #2. Please let me know if there are others as I am trying to maintain a complete collection of available recordings! Thanks!

-Peter Wilson

January 20, 2006 at 07:29 AM · Peter I see you've missed a few others mentioned in this discussion.

January 20, 2006 at 06:44 AM · Hello again, to everyone. Not to worry, this'll be short--just an update. I was able to find and order the Kaler and Schmid recordings on Amazon. I had to order the Korcia recording on Amazon.fr, the French site for Amazon. Looking forward to getting those! Thanks for the info!

-Peter Wilson

January 20, 2006 at 08:04 AM · Besides those you've missed in the discussion above a few others are:


-Atsuko Sahara Sonata No. 4

-Jack Liebeck Sonata No. 3

-Gil Shaham Sonata No. 2

-Vadim Goldfeld Sonatas Nos. 1, 3, 4

-David Chan Sonata No. 6

Live (archived) Recordings:

-Pavel Berman Ysaye Sonata No. 3 Myra Hess Memorial Concert Chicago 00/07/97

-Philip Newman Ysaye Solo Sonata No. 4 Private recital Brussels 24/03/65

-Julian Sitkovetski Ysaye Solo Sonata #1 op 27 Radio Moscow 1956

All Six:

-Arisa Fujita

Of particular historically importance:

-Efrem Zimbalist Sonata No. 1

Most of these are widely available.

Editions are a different matter. Have you seen the Menuhin discussions?

January 20, 2006 at 08:26 AM · We have a wonderful old vinyl recording of two of the sonatas by Endre Granat, who must be one of the least known, yet most recorded, modern violinists.

January 20, 2006 at 01:18 PM · Hi,

There is also an old LP of the Sonata No. 1 played beautifully by Victor Danchenko on the old Russian Melodya label.

Also, Peter, as mentioned above, you are right that the Henkle does not include everything. Ysaÿe entered his corrections in the score of Joseph Gingold. Where that is today, I don't know. But, Yuval Yaron used it for his recording.


January 20, 2006 at 01:52 PM · There's another recording missing of Ballade (#3) - Igor Oistrakh. I don't think it's been re-issued on CD.

PS. It's fantastic.

January 20, 2006 at 05:54 PM · Dear Mr. Wilson: We make reference to Mr. Vincent P. Skowronski, someone you should know from your past association with Northwestern University, as he is an alumnus of NU (BMu 1966, MMu '68), a former faculty member and an internationally recognized concert violinist, recording artist and Master Teacher of the instrument.

As to the Ysaye business immediately at hand, Mr. Wilson. You must have overlooked or are simply not aware of the three (3) Solo Sonatas that Mr. Skowronski has recorded:

NO. 1 in G MINOR, from S:CR-07:

"Mr. Skowronski has a firmer grasp of Ysaye's elusive idiom than most of the violinists I have heard perform this work." American Record Guide (Magil)

NO. 2 (Obsession) and NO. 5 (L'Aurore) from S:CR-01:

"It is in the Ysaye sonatas where the remarkable talent of Mr. Skowronski is most evident. This CD is a winner, you'll play it again and again." Chicago Daily Herald

We casually insert a mention of the existence of a SONATA FOR TWO VIOLINS (1915) by Monsieur Ysaye which also seems to be missing from Mr. Wilson's comprehensive list. Perhaps this occurs only because Mr. Wilson is concentrating on solo sonatas for ONE violin. Nevertheless.......

For more information regarding any or all of the above, feel free to contact--



Sincere regards to all our friends and colleagues at v.com,

Skowronski: Classical Recordings

Evantson, Illinois

January 21, 2006 at 01:12 AM · Peter,

I'm doing a recital of all six Ysaye sonatas in the near future, and I would love to see the list of the errors in the editions. I just bought the Henle edition yesterday, but I would be interested to see the other corrections you have come up with.

January 21, 2006 at 02:47 AM · Has anyone heard the Laurent Korcia' recording of the Ysaye or am I the only one?

January 21, 2006 at 05:03 AM · Strange you should mention that. I have him playing the 2nd Sonata on "The Art of the Violin" DVD, and I have many other recordings by him. He's a truly inspiring violinist, quite possibly the best in France right now.

I don't have a recording of his of all 6, but then again I don't know which one I'd get anyway. Do you know if the one released in 2002 is the same as the one released in 2005 (they're different prices)? If not, do you know or have an opinion as to which set is better?

There are many more performances that are missing from Peter's list. Aisi, I don't think he's trying to be that comprehensive as to performers, but more as to performance.

January 21, 2006 at 05:31 AM · Ilya Kaler has always been my favorite. IMHO, he's got to be one of the best violinists alive, and yet he doesn't concertize that much! (Does he?) I wish he played more concerts.

As for the errors in the edition, and corrections entered into Gingold's score...according to my teacher, Mr. Preucil, who studied with Gingold and has, I believe, all of the corrections of Ysaye passed down to him, there are definitely a few errors in the Henle, including fingering choice (about which Ysaye was very specific in places), and a few bowing discrepancies.

January 21, 2006 at 06:31 AM · Greetings, again, to the Ysaye club! It would appear that I started a bit of a firestorm. Let me try to respond to a few of the comments. First, let me be clear that my list of recordings was of those in MY COLLECTION. I never intended to suggest it was even remotely complete. In fact, I have been well aware that I'm missing several--particularly those recordings with only one sonata of Ysaye. That said, I AM trying to compile a complete LIST and I appreciate those who have added to it thusfar.


January 21, 2006 at 06:50 AM · RICK: Thanks for your additions! I actually do have the Zimablist recording--thanks for jogging my memory! Please elaborate on the Menuhin discussions.


January 21, 2006 at 06:51 AM · CHRISTIAN: I was aware of the Danchenko recording (know him, too, from ENCORE), but, as you pointed out, his recording is only available on LP.

My undergrad teacher, Blair Milton (CSO/Northwestern), was a student of Gingold and we have had many discussion regarding Gingold's memory of Ysaye. Gingold, of course, was a pupil of Ysaye and played the American debut of the "Ballade" (great story); however, his personal copy of the Sonatas were far from complete in their "corrections." In fact, depending on which of Gingold's students you speak with, he apparently taught the Sonatas quite differently and had conflicting memories of what Ysaye "passed down." I actually have a copy of a 164-page doctoral project from 1969, submitted by one Bertram Greenspan to the graduate faculty of Indiana (Gingold is a signing member of this committee). It is a well-outlined, poorly written study of the Sonatas that includes a table of CORRECTIONS in one of the Appendixes. Interestingly, this list includes only SEVEN corrections!!! FIVE of them are in the Fourth Sonata! (Gee, I wonder which one Mr. Greenspan performed.)

In any event, the most significant piece of information that Gingold passed down was the additional two measures at the front of the second movement of Sonata No. 4 (a request of Ysaye in note to Kreisler), cited by Shumsky on his recording (who was a colleague of Gingold) and, as you pointed out, on Yaron's.

It is worth noting that the Henle edition uses as it's most significant source Ysaye's personal copy of his First Edition, which was No. 8 of the first eleven copies of the edition, published on Japanese Imperial paper. In THIS personal copy, Ysaye made numerous hanwritten additions and corrections that were subsequently added to the Henle edition.


January 21, 2006 at 07:10 AM · Does anyone else find it odd that Mr. Skowronski speaks of himself in the third person?

To Mr. Skowronski (and his associates?), I can say that my parents both attended Northwestern (late 50's, early 60's), my father was on the faculty as John Paynter's first Assistant Director and I was there from 1986 to 1990. I served as Victor Yampolsky's concertmaster for 3 years and John Paynter's concertmaster in the Waa-Mu Show orchestra for 3 years. I studied violin with Blair Milton and conducting with M. Yampolsky. I only mention all of this to establish that I have been very involved at Northwestern over the years and regularly visit the campus to meet with my former teachers when I am in town. To my amazement, I don't recall ever hearing of Mr. Skowronski, either as a player or teacher. I don't doubt that he has done what he says he has done; I simply can't say that I was ever aware of it.

Regarding Mr. Skowronski's recordings of Ysaye, no I was not aware of them until this discussion group; however, I have visited his/your website and have been unsuccessful in locating a button to click on for the purpose of ordering these recordings. Please let me know how I should proceed! I would really like to hear these recordings and add them to my growing collection!

In regard to Ysaye's SONATA FOR TWO VIOLINS, of course I am aware of this piece! I have several recordings including one on a Kogan album. There are many pieces by Ysaye that I haven't mentioned--deliberately--as THIS discussion has been of the Solo Sonatas only.

I certainly would not describe myself as an internationally recognized concert violinst and Master Teacher of the instrument; however, it is possible that Mr. Skowronski saw a performance of mine since he has lived in Evanston for quite some time and feels a deep connection with Northwestern. Did he attend any orchestra concerts in the late 80's? I'm just wondering if I might have met him . . .

Best Wishes to my fellow NU alum!

-Peter Wilson

January 21, 2006 at 07:28 AM · PAUL: I have not heard the Korcia recording; however, I was able to order it from Amazon last evening! I look forward to hearing it! I'll let you know . . .


January 21, 2006 at 07:30 AM · RICK: If memory serves, I believe the earlier Korcia recording has only one of the Ysaye Sonatas on it, whereas the 2005 recording is of all 6, likely with whichever previous sonata rerecorded. Incidentally, I was NOT able to purchase the CD on American Amazon. It was on the "Amazon.fr" site (French). If you know how the buttons work, you don't need to read the French!



January 21, 2006 at 07:33 AM · To AMY (and anyone else interested):

Here is a list of the errors in the Henle Edition of the Ysaye Sonatas for Solo Violin: (I'll start with Sonata No. 1 for today) . . .

[NOTE: All references to the music wil be specific to the HENLE edition and may not reflect what appears in the previous Schirmer edition]



• m. 21-under the sixth chord in the measure (topped with a Bb), the fingering (1) should be on the left side of the stem (under the g')

• m. 40-the second note is missing a courtesy "flat" accidental.


• m. 39-last note g'' is missing a "natural" sign before it.

• m. 111 (first measure of Lento)-last beat dotted-eighth chord is missing the dot on the low d'.

Personal additional edits:

• mm. 83, 85, 87-I believe there should be an accent on the first note of the first triplet appearing in each of these measures. These are notes in the THEME that Ysaye is trying to bring out.

• m. 88-I believe there should be a courtesy accidental on the first note a' (previous bar has an Ab).

• m. 90-For clarity, a # on the final c' of the measure might be appropriate here since the second note (c'') has a natural sign.

Allegretto poco Scherzoso

• If one compares mm. 1-15 with mm. 51-65, it is clear that they are nearly identical. The only differences are in m. 6, final beat, the c' of the triplet does NOT have the mordent that appears on the same note in m. 56. Also, the diminuendo hairpin in m. 60 does NOT appear in m. 10. Should these measures be the same?

• m. 20-beats 2 and 3 should employ Ysaye's marking of a 5 inside a box, thus relfecting the need to cover the fifths (c#-f#).

• m. 37-last note "natural" sign on b' is UNnecessary, as is the third to last note "flat" on the e' of m. 45.

• m. 46-first note a' should have a natural sign preceding.

Finale con brio

• m. 5-first chord, bottom fingering of "zero" for open-string is incorrect (should be played with a fourth finger).

• m. 58-for clarity, the first chord should have a "natural" sign preceding the c'.

• m. 106-I believe a flat is missing before the final e' of the measure (upper voice, second to last double-stop).

Hope this helps!

More to come . . .

Best wishes,


January 21, 2006 at 01:53 PM · Question: Are all these really errors? i.e. Are they a result of the publishers reading wrong in the score or is it a revision (update, second thoughts) from Ysaye's part?

January 21, 2006 at 04:03 PM · Mattias:

Excellent question. The answer is somewhat complicated. When I proofread the first edition (before the Henle was available), my "corrections" could be put into four categories: (1) correcting wrong pitches, note and rest duration, meter, and rhythm; (2) correcting tempo markings, articulation, and dynamic inconsistancies; (3) correcting bowing and fingering inconsistancies; (4) cleaning up the music from a notational perspective. This fourth category was somewhat personal and would not be something pursued when preparing an Urtext edition. I simply felt that Ysaye's notation was, at times, unorthodox and needed modernizing.

Now, these are very delicate matters in that I knew I had limited access to original sources, yet, I wanted to keep the integrity of Ysaye's intentions. Clearly, there are those violinists out there who change Ysaye's fingerings and bowings either because they think there are misprints or they believe their markings are better or more efficient. In some cases there ARE indisputable errors (e.g. a 4 is marked on a low A on the G-string, etc.); however, in many cases, Ysaye is trying to make a specific statement, either in color or technique. While Ysaye himself puts in writing in the "preface" that bowings and fingerings are a personal matter, I firmly believe that violinists should treat his markings as inseparable from the composition itself--they are as important as the notes themselves--certainly from an historical perspective. They speak to how Ysaye INTENDED his music to be played.

Getting back to the "errors," now that we have the HENLE Urtext edition, which is quite thorough in its analysis of the sources, there were still a few oversights--places where there are indisputable errors from the FIRST edition that were NOT corrected in the HENLE and even errors NEW to the Henle (misprints, primarily in the Critical Commentary).

Finally, when I offer my "corrections," I am including those entries that reflect what I would call clarity in the music. In other words, I am adding either courtesy accidentals where there is ambiguity, or I am adding markings in the spirit of Ysaye's (using HIS invented markings). In these cases, I make an effort to be clear that they are MY opinion. Again, these "personal" edits/recommendations would not be appropriate necessarily for an Urtext edition unless notatated in brackets, etc. Frank Peter Zimmerman was tapped for his opinion in these matters when Henle prepared its edition.

Hope that clears it up!

Sonata No. 2 corrections coming soon . . .


January 21, 2006 at 06:33 PM · Just an anecdote: There have been a few references to Josef Gingold and his teaching of the solo sonatas. I was privileged to study the 3rd sonata with him in the 60's. I was playing from, I believe a French edition that had all sorts of wrong notes and that Mr. Gingold had not seen before. He got very upset and concluded that the edition must have been put out by Ysaye's "enemies".

January 21, 2006 at 08:39 PM · Hi,

Peter, I found out that the Danchenko recording was put out on CD by the Peabody Institute. Since you don't live to far, I was told that it is available at the An die Musik record store in Baltimore.

As for the Greenspan dissertation, I have met Bert personally. I know from him that the orientation of that dissertation was largely Gingold's in many ways. Nonetheless, he deserves a lot of credit. It was the first scholarly work on the sonatas a long time before anything else appeared. Plus, the formal analyses/graphs are excellent.

As for the addition to the Sarabande in the Fourth Sonata (the ostinato played twice), I have seen the letter. It was taught to me that way by a Gingold student, with the correction of the last note corrected nowhere else (the last note of the movement should be an A not a D). Ysaÿe's son Antoine also mentioned the ostinato in some of his writings about his father (don't remember where).

I am glad to the see the scholarship on these works explode in the last couple of years. The are great and too little had been written about them. KUDOS to you Peter!


January 22, 2006 at 03:04 AM · Bruce: Great anecdote. My teacher (Blair Milton) told me the story of Gingold playing the American premiere of the Ballade. Apparently he forgot how it opened and as the audience was gathered, he summoned Mr. Ysaye from his chair via a third party. Ysaye quietly "snuck" out and went backstage. When Gingold, tail between his legs, asked for a reminder of the opening, Ysaye couldn't remember either!

After about 15 minutes of thumping their heads, they managed to remember between them, and the performance went on, successfully.


January 22, 2006 at 03:51 AM · Michael Rabin recorded the 3rd and 4th Ysaye Sonatas in 1956,when he was 19 years old. The interpretation is thoughtful, very emotionally expressive but not overly so, and above all, musical; they are wonderful, and as far as I'm concerned still the definitive recordings of these particular sonatas. That young man was quite amazing. These tracks are still available - EMI has just re-issued Rabin's complete recordings on CD. Additionally, SONY issued a CD (ISBN 0 7404-60894-2)called Michael Rabin - The Early Years, with his childhood Columbia debut recordings, playing 11 of the Caprices and other pieces at age 12 (they were not released until he was 14).

January 22, 2006 at 03:27 AM · Christian,

Great news about the Danchenko recording on CD-thanks.

Regarding the Greenspan document, I have to agree that I was fascinated with the content of the work as I read it on the flight home from Chicago some 10 years ago. I'll concede that I was perhaps a bit harsh on the writing skills. You make a very good point that it deserves respect simply in terms of it being the first of its kind. In fact, it appears to have been several years before anyone else made an attempt at similar analysis. I am very much looking forward to Ray Iwazumi's dissertation submitted at Juilliard (2004). I've been in contact with him and he is willing to send me a copy for a small fee.

Regarding the Sarabande of the 4th and the discussion of the final note, my father who is a well published musicologist (19th century music--Berlioz specialist) and fine music theorist, had a very interesting theory in support of the final note being the d' that appears in the first addition. Naturally, the strongest arguement behind the note being an a' is that it would be consistant with the last note of the motive. However, my father's theory is, when analyzing the note in context with what follows--the third movement in E minor--the final phrase of the Sarabande, if it ends with a d' is the Dominant Chord of E minor. The last progression (last 2 bars), therefore, would be I-V-I-V or G (with added 6th), D, G (with added 6th, which now is an appoggiatura to the final note d'), D--setting up the last movement beautifully YET unpredictably since we EXPECT to hear the a'. I think it's a powerful arguement. Obviously, if the original manuscript has an a' or the source corrected by Ysaye had an a' than it must be honored. However, if there is no conclusive evidence as to Ysaye's absolute intentions here, perhaps it is a worthy theory. Your thoughts?

Thanks for the support, by the way!



January 22, 2006 at 04:12 AM · Gilles:

I couldn't agree more about Michael Rabin's Ysaye 3 & 4. Prior to his I had only heard Shumsky and Mordokovich (well, and Fodor's Ballade, from the LP after his Silver Medal . . . ). What is particularly amazing about Rabin is that those recordings were Mono NOT Stereo, yet you can hear the unbelievable fullness and massive projection of his sound. He was truly one of a kind.


January 22, 2006 at 10:35 PM · Hi Peter,

Thanks for the info on the Korcia 'full' set, and for the fascinating discussion on errors/possibilities in the Op. 27.

As for my comment about Menuhin I was just wondering if you've seen the 2 shows that he did, on the BBC I think, sometime in the late 50's early 60's, in which he discussed Ysaye.

He has always been fairly outspoken when it comes to Ysaye, and particularly when it comes to performance of the solo sonatas. He was always proud of telling the story about his playing for Ysaye when he was a kid.

Anyway, I take it, since it's your doctorate you're working on, that you're taking a very different track from Ray Iwazumi. I'm assuming that his 'The Six Sonates pour violon seul, op. 27 of Eugène Ysaye: Critical Commentary and Interpretive Analysis of the Sketches, Manuscripts, and Published Editions' (2004 Juilliard) is familiar to you. I'm wondering what the main focus you have that is different from Iwazumi's? I know he is very concerned with the rhythmic difficulties/issues in the final Ysaye Edition as well as in the 'purple ink' edition.

I also didn't see Dubois' recording on your list. I was thinking that Dubois' recording of the 3rd Sonata would probably be the most important recording in existence (other than finding Ysaye playing them himself) related to interpretation. What do you think?

Again, great discussion.

January 22, 2006 at 01:02 PM · For Ralph, Peter, and any other interested parties: not to get off the subject, but there's a new book out about Michael Rabin, an authroized biography. You may wonder upon seeing it why the photo chosen for the cover is so dark. By the time you're halfway through the book, you'll know. Not a fun book, but a must for dyed-in-the-wool violin lovers.

January 22, 2006 at 01:32 PM · Hi,

My thoughts Peter is that it should be an A. You father makes an interesting point. However, it would be strange to have a minor dominant chord set up the last movement. After all, the note is D-natural... For me that doesn't work so well since the D-natural resolves nowhere harmonically in the opening of the last movement. The A however does (it's the 7th in the Dominant of E minor) and it resolves to a G-natural, which is the third note of the last movement. In any event, I could be wrong, but that is my harmonic view of it. Your thoughts on this?

By the way Peter or Rick, is Iwazumi's disseratation available through inter-library loan at this point or in any other format?

Like Rick said, this is a great discussion!


January 22, 2006 at 04:22 PM · Hi,

Picking up on what what Rick said about a Dubois recording, have any of you head Philip Newman's live recording of the 4th Sonata's Allemande (a Symposium CD grouping the only known examples of his playing + Hassid's recordings)? I unfortunately haven't had time to read all this very informative thread as carefully as I would have liked, but I didn't see him mentioned. A couple of years ago I was asked to review this CD and then write an article about him for the Strad: the recordings were mesmerising and his life story rather special. He played the 4th Sonata for Ysaye when the later was on his deathbed and was viewed by many (including himself I might add!), as Ysaye's artistic heir, and certainly both his playing and his physical appearance bear striking witness to this. The 4th Sonata and also Kreisler's Scherzo-Recitative dedicated to Ysaye have extraodinary flair.

I do wonder where one could get hold of the Dubois.

Best, Nathaniel

January 23, 2006 at 03:03 AM · Christian, no, not that I'm aware of. As Peter has done, I think you'll have to order it. Though as you know, sometimes you can be lucky, especially if the document in question is in another large 'circulating' library and ordered from an 'institutional' library for 'research' purposes. It's a little strange though because I remember looking through some dissertation abstracts online (by Proquest or one of those companies) and I thought it was there. But when I went back I couldn't find it.

So as you've mentioned IL Loans is a good place to start even though it is a dissertation. And if you're in good with IL Loans, that's a big bonus. I've been lucky concerning such things several times and had documents (even tomes) copied for me.

Let me state that my knowledge of the dissertation's content comes solely from the Strad article by Iwazumi.

Nathaniel, I mention above the only recording (archival) of Newman I know about. I would like to get the one you mention too! The Dubois was available through Biddulph. At least it was announced, years ago as I remember.

I find the 'D' or 'A' discussion quite interesting. For me, the 'A' works better as a transition to the beginning of the Finale. But on the other hand the 'D' works better in aiding the mounting tension that ultimately unleashes the Finale's 'Piu animato ma poco' transition to E maj.

January 23, 2006 at 06:40 AM · Rick:

I have not seen the Menuhin shows from the 50s/60s on Ysaye. I'll look for them.

Regarding my doctorate, I have not yet read Ray Iwazumi's dissertation; however, I have been in contact with him and hope to get a copy soon. Unfortuantely, I had the same idea of focussing on a comparison of the two editions ("Schirmer" vs. Henle). There are several paths I could take here and have already done extensive research over the past 9 years in preparation of this very Lecture Recital. Of course, my focus changed the moment the Henle was available. Dr. Iwazumi "beat me" to the goal! No hard feelings, though. In fact, his studying at Juilliard allowed him greater access to the resources, etc., and I'm quite sure he was very thorough in his analysis. This is partly why I'm so eager to read his work, aside from simply having a passion for the subject. I would like to see if there is a different perspective I could take. The good news is that my Lecture does not fall into the category of a doctoral dissertation, so the rules are a bit different. In other words, it will be okay if some of my research overlaps with his. You guys should visit his website and listen to the audio clips of all the Sonatas HE recorded. He is quite a fantastic violinist.

What did you mean by the "purple ink" edition (assuming this is the first edition, now Schirmer/Hal Leonard)?

I keep hearing about the Dubois recording! I must get this! Searching, searching, searching . . .


January 23, 2006 at 06:53 AM · Gilles:

Thanks for the heads-up on the Rabin book! I'll look for it! His Ysaye is definitely in my top 5 of favorite recordings. I bought that big green box when it was first issued. If they were LPs, I would have worn the grooves out.

I read he was terrified to perform in public . . .curious to understand the black cover.


January 23, 2006 at 06:56 AM · Christian:

Fantastic arguement for the last note of the Sarabande/4th sonata--with the A as the 7th of the V of e!--I only wish, for the sake of your arguement, that Ysaye included more notes from THAT chord so that it is clearly the 7th. You know what I mean?

I'm not sure I agree with your finding the D strange with the claim of it being part of a MINOR dominant chord. There is no F-natural to make it minor. In fact, there's really no distinct minor OR major tonality.

Again, I will concede that it is MOST likely Ysaye intended for an A to end the movement. What I REALLY wish is that Ysaye had written the D and A together as an open fifth. Then everyone would be happy! The motive would be complete AND the previous E would still be an appoggiatura to the D. Alas, it is not so . . .

BTW, the Ray Iwazumi dissertation may be available for purchase through the Juilliard library, according to Iwazumi. However, he is allowing me to purchase it from him directly and mentioned that he has updated his personal copy as things have changed since his submitting of it in 2004.


January 23, 2006 at 07:07 AM · Nathaniel:

Again, you guys have me on the run to find these recordings . . . Dubois and Hassid! I have already ordered seven recordings as a result of this discussion group! Thanks!


January 23, 2006 at 07:10 AM · Rick:

Iwazumi mentioned his Strad article to me. Do you know how I can get a copy of that? Unfortunately, I only get STRINGS magazine (should get Strad, but don't). The only Strad issue I have is one in which I received a surprise review of a public performance back in 1996! I had no idea there was a reviewer in the audience. In fact, I never knew about the review until some former teachers called to tell me they saw it!


January 23, 2006 at 08:51 AM · Nicholaj Znaider has played the No. 3 Ballad in his debut recording. (Bravo, RCA label).

Beautifully played with nuances.

January 23, 2006 at 12:22 PM · Dear Ralph, Perhaps someone should mention that SONY also issued a CD of Maitre Ysaye's own recordings: it's called Eugene Ysaye Violinist and Conductor The Complete Violin Recordings; it's from something called "Masterworks Heritage" and is SONY Classical MHK 62337. The ISBN is 0 074646 233726. This should be fascinating for you - the Mendelssohn Conceto is on there, works by Kriesler, Faure, Wagner, Ysaye himself of course, and more. I hope you can adjust your ear to recording standards back in 1912 - I love that stuff. Hope you can find it, too. Sorry, Peter, if you're broke by now - this is another must.

January 23, 2006 at 04:59 PM · You know, Peter, that green box you're talking about was going for over $600 last year on ebay, before it was re-issued, so if you consider how much you're ahead by having bought it when it came out, you'll feel much better...

January 23, 2006 at 07:32 PM · Gilles!

LOL! I'll never have the credit card bills my wife has . . . so I can indulge myself with a few extra Ysaye CDs!

Yes, I already have the Ysaye complete recordings violin/conducting. It IS fantastic.

You all inspired me to watch the Art of the Violin DVD again last night (it had been over a year since I'd seen it). Hilary Hahn was NOT the right pick for an interview subject. I wish they had picked a different young-generation violinist (Leila Josefowiz maybe?). It's hard to watch Hilary speak . . . Perlman is always fun and the other interviews are great.

I LOVE my Rabin green box!



January 23, 2006 at 08:05 PM · What do you think of Ivry Gitlis....? I think he is really funny in the dvd. I also wished he has recorded the Ysaye sonatas...

January 23, 2006 at 08:39 PM · Paul:

Ditto on both your comments.

He is fantastic. I also was reminded of just how awesome Milstein was. There's a man who was simply "one" with his violin--it accompanied him everywhere--like another limb.


January 24, 2006 at 02:51 AM · I FINALLY got the Ilya Kaler Ysaye CD in the mail today and am listening to it right now. It is pretty good. Very nice sound and technique but I think it is a tad dry. Still worth getting though.

January 24, 2006 at 06:03 AM · Peter, yes, I love the Ysaye complete CD. The Mendelssohn is my favourite.

Send me an email as to where you want the Strad Iwazumi article sent and I'll be happy to oblige. I'll let you read about the 'purple ink' edition.

January 25, 2006 at 02:20 PM · Rick:

Again, thanks for the Ysaye articles & links! They are great!

Anyone: I just received a copy of Lydia Mordokovich's Ysaye Sonata recording in the mail, only, I already own this CD. I can't figure out from the return address who sent is, but it has old library labelling on it and the case is chipped everywhere . . . very bizarre. Did any o f you send this?


P.S. Okay, I know this isn't much substance for this discussion . . . I really just wanted to keep this Ysaye forum alive!!! Anyone with me?

January 25, 2006 at 02:43 PM · I just heard Ysaye's 8th violin concerto...pretty interesting little ditty.

Also any opinions on Kavakos playing the Sonatas? Robotic maybe? One of my favorite violinists...but there's not much to the recording.

January 25, 2006 at 04:05 PM · Rick,

Sorry, yes I did miss your reference earlier. I'm pretty sure it is a different performance. I don't know how readily available this Symposium CD is, it came out in late 2003, I think. It's definitely worth the search, but let me know if you can't get hold of it. And Peter Wilson, just to avoid any ambiguity, the Hassid recordings in question don't include Ysaye music - they're the same ones issued by Testament and probably other labels.

The Dubois recordings on Biddulph include Bach and Franco-Belgian Sonatas, as far as I'm aware, not Ysaye. I'll check with Eric Wen, who runs the label.

Best, Nathaniel

January 25, 2006 at 10:22 PM · Johnathan: Yes, I was hoping for a better recording from Kavakos, too. I really like his playing on most recordings. His Ysaye seems a bit like a novelty to him.


For what it's worth, I recently was able to successfully order a CD of historical recordings that has Josef Hassid performing the first movement of Ysaye's Sonata No. 4. It is being shipped to me currently.

As for Alfred Dubois, my research tells me he recorded the "Ballade" on the Biddulph label. I'm still looking for it. Is it your impression that such a recording does NOT exist?



January 25, 2006 at 10:44 PM · Hi Peter...have you contacted Biddulph? They digitize quite often.

January 25, 2006 at 11:50 PM · What I want to know is, whatever happened to Ralph Gomez?

January 26, 2006 at 04:21 AM · Jonathan: No, I have only visited the Biddulph website--can't find the recording there, however.

Gilles: LOL!!! I think Mr. Gomez resurfaced once a few days ago, but he is definitely Bobby Fischer now. Perhaps we should start a NEW Ysaye forum . . . I'll get on that . . .


January 27, 2006 at 06:38 PM · Hi Peter,

I have a nagging suspicion that the CD you ordered will have Newman playing the Ysaye movement (that's the CD I mentioned earlier), though it also included Hassid's few and precious recordings.If I'm right, I hope it won't come as a disappointment, but the Newman performances are remarkably atmospheric. As for Dubois, I've emailed Eric Wen, who runs Biddulph, to find out more.

Best, Nathaniel

February 6, 2006 at 07:23 AM · There is an excellent Sonata #5 by Juliette Kang. The rest of her CD is equally as wonderful. Grab a copy while you can.


October 27, 2009 at 01:11 AM ·

Dear Peter Wilson,

I have read with great interest your corrections and for the most part agree with them. As to the inseparable relationship between the fingerings and the musical intent, I would disagree, having had many lessons with Mr. Gingold in the late eighties, both at Meadowmount and when he visited New York. Great teachers and composers are always inspired when a student or an artist  comes up with an idea that works organically well, and somehow illuminates the music in a new way. Who is to say that, were Mr Ysaye alive today, his feelings about the possibilities of the six sonatas would not be different, given close to a hundred years of tremendous development of the artform?

Nonetheless, your work on the scores is greatly appreciated by all!


Odin Rathnam

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