Audiences at this time found the Sonata No 1 bewildering, and Bloch, sensitive to their sense of shock, felt the need to compensate by writing something serene, ecstatic, spiritual, mystical. His Violin Sonata No 2 (Poème mystique
) was conceived in one movement divided into several contrasting sections. The composition of Poème mystique
was triggered by a dream that Bloch had after a mild overdose of Veronal, following a period of intense crisis and illness. The main musical characteristics are the long melodic lines (the first of which comprises rising and falling open fourths and fifths), and the use – about half-way through – of a prominent motif borrowed from the works of the ‘Jewish Cycle’, followed almost immediately by the Gregorian Credo in the violin part in octaves, the Gloria of the Mass Kyrie Fons bonitatis
shared between piano and violin, and a traditional Amen on the violin. The Latin text appears above the musical notation. This simple and lyrical work, similar in some ways to the slow movement of the Piano Quintet of 1921–3 and stylistically not unlike Szymanowski, was dedicated to the violinist André de Ribaupierre (also a student of Ysaÿe) and Beryl Rubinstein – colleagues of Bloch at the Cleveland Institute of Music.
from notes by Alexander Knapp © 2005