Session Report: Hilary Hahn on Ysaÿe’s Solo Violin Sonatas


When Hilary Hahn decided to record Ysaÿe’s Six Solo Violin Sonatas for their centenary year, all the stars seemed to align in terms of both timing and fresh musical insights, as she tells Charlotte Gardner

Joseph Szigeti, Jacques Thibaud, George Enescu, Fritz Kreisler, Mathieu Crickboom and Manuel Quiroga: six violinists who as individuals spanned the gamut of musical language – from Enescu’s Romanian folk leanings and Quiroga’s Galician inflections, to Thibaud’s French sensuousness and sparkle – and who stand collectively as the dedicatees of Ysaÿe’s Bach-inspired Six Solo Violin Sonatas op.27. In this set, dating roughly from July 1923, each sonata is lovingly fashioned to its dedicatee’s personal vernacular, with their many in-jokes including (in no.2) Thibaud’s ‘obsession’ with Bach’s Solo Partita in E major. Essentially, there’s enough ‘golden age’ violinist DNA buried in this score’s pages to keep a musico-linguistic treasure hunter going for hours…

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