Judith Ingolfsson

Eugène Ysaye: Six Sonatas for Violin Solo, Op. 27

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The Six Sonatas for violin solo, Op. 27, of Eugène Ysaÿe were composed in 1923. After some years of neglect they have been enjoying a revival. They're unlike anything else in the virtuoso literature. Seemingly inspired by Bach's solo violin music (and the Sonata No. 2 is even built on a Bach quotation), they are wildly experimental in terms of technique, throwing in such novelties as overtones, chords with more than four parts, and pizzicato strums. On top of all this, they pay homage to (or comment on) the styles of the friends or rivals of this great Belgian violinist/composer; each of the six sonatas is dedicated to a different violinist, and all are different in style, designed to evoke the playing of the dedicatee. The whole concept is so far over the top that many violinists pull out all the stops in playing the sonatas, going for maximum shock value. Given the world of the late Romantic virtuoso in which Ysaÿe operated this isn't necessarily a bad idea, but there's room for subtler approaches that tamp down the drama a bit without losing any of the technical hoop-jumping. It's not surprising that Icelandic-born violinist Judith Ingolfsson plays this music well: she studied at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia with Jascha Brodsky, whose teacher was Ysaÿe himself. Another violinist in the Ysaÿe line is Hilary Hahn, and Ingolfsson's playing somewhat resembles hers; it is not exceptionally fiery but is marvelously precise tonally, rock-solid in technical extremities, and just very elegant. The sound here is quite nice; it gives you a strong sense of the performer's presence without being in any way harsh. Detailed notes are in English and German.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Six Sonatas for Violin Solo, Op. 27
1 4:48
2 5:06
3 4:47
4 3:08
5 2:49
6 3:08
7 4:57
8 3:39
9 8:19
10 6:38
11 3:42
12 4:01
13 5:31
14 6:04
15 8:09
blue highlight denotes track pick