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I. Obsession – Prelude: Poco vivace
At the very beginning of the movement, Ysaÿe directly quotes the beginning of Prelude from J. S. Bach’s Partita No. 3 in E major for solo violin. Much like Bach’s E major Prelude, the movement consists of virtuosic sixteenth notes throughout, yet Ysaÿe’s use of chromatic tonality clearly sets the piece in the genre of early 20th century music. Direct quotes from Bach’s Prelude appear frequently, showing Ysaÿe’s «obsession» with Bach’s work. Another prominent theme is the «Dies Irae», a plainchant from the Catholic Mass for the Dead. Ysaÿe often employed his own symbols to indicate specific directions to players; for example, in the 74th bar of this movement, he uses one of his symbols over the first note of each beat to indicate that these notes should be played by the whole bow.
Recorded in Royal College of Music of London (Parry Room)
Video and sound edition Karim Younis