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Eugène Ysaÿe - Sonata No. 4 in E minor f or solo violin op. 27

Violinist, composer, and conductor Eugène Ysaÿe was undoubtedly among the most eminent practitioners of his instrument throughout the last four decades of the nineteenth and first two of the twentieth centuries. He is still rated one of the greatest exemplars of the Franco- Belgian violin school, and his enduring influence is reflected by the fact that his Sonatas for Solo Violin continue to be regarded as some of the most influential works of their genre ever devised, standing alongside the solo violin works of Bach and Paganini in musical stature and technical difficulty. The solo sonatas were all written in 1924. Each work in the series was dedicated to a fellow virtuoso, all of whom were close personal friends of the composer. That the set is made up of six works in all is also undeniably significant. Outwardly, this fact reflects Ysaÿe's lifelong veneration of Bach's Sonatas and Partitas, whose stern counterpoint and rhetoric is a constant feature of Ysaÿe's idiom. Perhaps it is the Sonata No. 4, dedicated to Fritz Kreisler, that most immediately suggests Bach's influence. This is even evident in the titles of its three movements, the first two being taken from the traditional nomenclature of a Baroque suite. An opening Allemande, ma rked Lento maestoso, contains noble, austere themes deployed against a backdrop of rich, multiple- stopped chording. So advanced is the polyphony that the music often conveys to the listener the illusion of full harmonization. Then follows a slow Sarabande tinged with an almost Viennese nostalgia (another apt tribute to Kreisler's Au strian heritage) and a bravura F inale Presto ma non troppo , in which the violinist plays rapid, unrelenting figurations of enormous technical difficulty, again in a style instant ly suggestive of Bach.

J. S. Bach - 2 nd Sonata in A minor for violin solo BWV 1003 According to the manuscripts of Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, BWV 1001- 06, the six pieces were completed in 1720, while the composer was employed at the Cöthen court. At Cöthen, Bach devoted himself primarily to the composition of instrumental music; this period saw the composition of the Brandenburg Concertos, the violin and keyboard concertos, the orchestral suites and the first part of the Well - Tempered Clavier, among other works. Often Bach composed works of each genre in cycles, with six works in each. In the case of the Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, Bach alternated three sonatas with three partitas. The partitas consist of between five and eight dance movements, while the sonatas are in four movements, none of which is a dance except the third movement of the first sonata, in G minor, which is a Siciliana. Throughout these six works there is evidence of not only Bach's knowledge of the technical capabilities of the violin, but also of his ability to create dense counterpoint and effective harmony with one stringed instrument. The solo violin sonatas were first published between 1817 and 1828. A rhapsodic Grave opens the second Sonata in A minor, BWV 1003. At such a slow tempo, the highly ornamented melody seems to meander at will, navigating a course of highly contrasting rhythms and decorative flourishes that release the melodic potential of the minor mode. The overall "free" nature of the Grave makes it sound like a prelude to the ensuing movement. As in all three of the violin sonatas, the second movement, the central point of the piece, is a F ugue. Daunting in both size and complexity, the Fugue pushes forward relentlessly, creating a dense contrapuntal web. Bach sets the third movement apart from the others through both an Andante tempo and contrasting key. The w riting is more homophonic here, with a calm melody that provides a needed foil to the harsh energy of the preceding Fugue. A lively, lighthearted Allegro, rich with rhythmic and melodic variations, returns to A minor and closes the piece.