YSAŸE Six Sonatas for Solo Violin (Sharon Park)
What an act of largesse Eugène Ysaÿe bestowed upon music when he composed his Six Sonatas for Solo Violin, Op 27. He wrote them to capture the individual styles of six prominent violinists, while making imaginative use of the instrument’s expressive and technical possibilities. The sonatas, as the title of Sharon Park’s new disc proclaims, are ‘Portraits.’
Ysaÿe had to know his colleagues well to evoke their distinctive qualities. The First Sonata, in G minor, is dedicated to Joseph Szigeti, whose warmth and virtuosity are conveyed in four movements of divergent character, with Bach as the foundation. Jacques Thibaudet’s practice ‘Obsession’ is depicted in the first movement of the Second Sonata, in A minor, which also turns to Bach even as it embraces the ‘Dies irae’ theme in many guises.
The single-movement Third Sonata, in D minor, is subtitled ‘Ballade’ to suggest the folkloric and poetic artistry of the Romanian violinist Georges Enescu. At times, the music fairly dances off the page. Fritz Kreisler is the subject of the three-movement Fourth Sonata, in E minor, with its nods to the Austrian violinist’s noble and nuanced artistry. Two lesser-known violinists, the Belgian Mathieu Crickboom and Spaniard Manuel Quiroga, are the dedicatees of the two-movement Fifth and single-movement Sixth Sonatas.
Park plays each sonata with confidence, placing the varied demands in their specific stylistic ambiences and embracing both intimacy and showmanship. You don’t have to be a violinist to appreciate the music or the performances.