JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH Solo Violin Partita No. 3 in E
Major, BWV 1006; Solo Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001
A magisterial compendium of compositional styles and
instrumental techniques, Bach's six sonatas and partitas for
unaccompanied violin have delighted listeners-and tested the
ability of performers-ever since their rediscovery in the Bach
revival of the mid-1800s. The autograph score of the violin solos
is dated 1720, when Bach was Kapellmeister in Cöthen, but some of
the music was probably composed during his previous appointment as
court organist in Weimar. Although Bach himself, according to his
son Carl Philipp Emanuel, played the violin "clearly and
penetratingly," it is questionable whether his technique was equal
to all the music's formidable challenges. However, we can easily
imagine him trying out passages on his fine violin by Jacob
Stainer, the leading violin maker of Baroque period.
EUGÈNE YSAŸE Solo Violin Sonata in A Minor, Op. 27, No.
Belgian violinist Eugène Ysaÿe was renowned for his purity of
tone, liquid phrasing, and seemingly effortless virtuosity, which
he displayed in a series of sonatas inspired by Bach's solo violin
works. The A-Minor Sonata of 1924, with its "obsessive" repetition
of a seven-note motif drawn from the famous Dies
irae chant, exploits the instrument's technical and
expressive resources to the full.
PAUL HINDEMITH Solo Violin Sonata in G Minor, Op. 11, No.
Long before his avant-garde compositions made him a household
name in Weimar, Paul Hindemith had a promising career as a
violinist. Both his virtuosity and his intimate knowledge of the
violin shine through in this brilliant work, composed at the end of
World War I. It was the first of many solo sonatas he would write
for a wide variety of instruments.