sextuplet in Ysaÿes sonata 4

Edited: April 16, 2019, 7:40 AM · Some notes have a double stem.
I suppose that it means that they must be sustained longer.

However, 2 notes that share 1 flag (hence quavers), are 3 semi-quavers apart (in stead of 2).

sextuplets in sarabande, at 'a tempo' indication

Should the shared flag (below the bar) be split?
or should the sustained notes not be in the sextuplet rhythm?

Replies (14)

April 16, 2019, 9:18 AM · The first "quaver" is indeed 3 sextuplet semis; The second quaver is a triplet quaver. The hanging crotchets should be non-triplet quavers.

Copying this into a notation editor would need two voices in sextuplet with extra rests, especially for reliable xml output...

Simple, really! ;)

Edited: April 16, 2019, 10:27 AM · Sorry Adrian but I can't figure out what you mean! I was going to suggest that Ysaye wants the notes with both upward and downward stems to be sounded in unison on two strings, but the second G would require an enormous stretch. Maybe he just wants those notes emphasised slightly
Edited: April 16, 2019, 10:40 AM · The double stem / diamond heads are just pointing out the passacaglia notes that are repeated throughout the entire movement (which you can then choose to bring out and emphasize). It's not a polyrhythmic notation and they're not meant to be doubled or played as double stops with the following notes - it's intended to indicate that the structure of the bar is the same as in the beginning pizz section.
April 16, 2019, 10:40 AM · It's an interesting marking: "canto, poco marcato."
April 16, 2019, 10:49 AM · Many thanks Irene for educating us. I suppose there is literature on this, would appreciate pointers, but naively, can we be sure that Ysaye did not mean this to be doubled? After all that ostinato theme is doubled throughout the movement, just not in this section. Has anybody ever heard a performer who plays this doubled?
April 16, 2019, 11:01 AM · I don't think the theme is ever doubled anywhere in the movement - the stems are always printed separately but off the top of my head I don't think you ever play the notes as unisons. A lot of what we do in Ysaye sonatas seems to be a living performance practice - one of the most prolific teachers of the 20th century, Josef Gingold, studied directly with Ysaye, and passed his interpretation of Ysaye's intentions onto his students.
Edited: April 16, 2019, 11:39 AM · Sorry for the confusion, what I mean by doubled is playing the ostinato theme as a second voice, for example in the section that precedes the section we are discussing here:

Ysaye 4 on YouTube

I suppose one could try to keep that second voice going in the section we are discussing, but I can agree it would probably sound bad, still I would not be surprised if certain interpreters have tried to achieve something like that?

Edited: April 17, 2019, 9:45 AM · I would have thought that the downward stems denote a long duration. I.e. right at the beginning you play g, then g an octave above. Then follows b but the g from the second voice should still sound (it is noted twice as long as the sextuplet sixteenths), i.e. now you are playing a third. Then, analogously b, f, f/g. Again in the second sixtuplet: a, c/e, c/e, e, a. This would result in the theme being highlighted not through accents but through longer duration.
The fingering in the next sextuplet would appear to confirm this interpretation; at the very least it is compatible with it (note that it is not 3/0 on the a, just 3!). Playing the a on the open string would make this way of playing it impossible.
April 17, 2019, 10:06 AM · @Albrecht - yes, that does seem to rule out the double-stop theory, but there's no way the downward-stemmed E can sound for a full crotchet when the E must be played again a quaver later! I think Irene is correct, that the downward stems are simply to remind the player to bring out the passacaglia theme and rhythm by whatever alchemy may be contrived
Edited: April 17, 2019, 1:30 PM · The way I see it you play the arpeggio but you just keep the e sounding while you play the two cs. What you suggest is generally marked with accent signs (Prokoffief solo sonata, second movement, second to last variation for example would be quite similar). Why would Ysaye write it this way when accent signs would do? And why give the down stem notes different values? That has to mean something.
April 17, 2019, 2:54 PM · Ysaye wrote it as he thought fit. Notation has it limits.
Look at what we do to Bach!
April 17, 2019, 3:09 PM · Hi,

Jacob, the notes that are marked are those of the ostinato that makes up the base of the movement. The bowings and rhythm are meant to be played as is written with the notes brought out (either slightly accented or with more bow) without changing anything else. Ysaÿe marked things that way so that where the notes that belong to the ostinato are clear.

Also, not written in the part, but from Ysaÿe himself via Joseph Gingold to my teacher to me, is that the ostinato should be played twice in pizzicato by itself before the start of the movement.

Hope this helps...


April 17, 2019, 4:47 PM · I thought I remembered having a recording of Ysaye himself playing his sonatas.

Personally, I wouldn't over-think those thematic notes. I think Ysaye wants the violinist to know that they're there, but trying to really bring them out isn't necessary. In fact, I think trying to emphasize them may end up sounding forced and hokey, especially considering their metrical position. It can be done in the Bach theme he uses in the 2nd sonata, but not so much here. Trying to play unisons or some kind of double stops is a worse idea.

April 17, 2019, 7:37 PM · Hi,

Scott, Ysaÿe didn't record the sonatas, and sadly, neither did the violinists to whom each sonata was dedicated.

The notes should be brought out, but I agree with Scott that it should not be grotesque. Also, they are not unisons. They are marked to show the ostinato theme within the arpeggiated figures, but they are not double-stops. One way to bring them out without exaggeration is to vibrate the notes as they come.

Hope this helps a little further...


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