The third sonata (titled ‘Ballade’, a reference to Chopin) is inspired by the character—free and profoundly Romanian—of its dedicatee, George Enescu. Ysaÿe had a special admiration for Enescu both as a composer and violinist. Josef Gingold, while studying with Ysaÿe in Brussels, premiered the work during a dinner in honour of Queen Elisabeth of Belgium. The young violinist, while warming up in a side room, realized that the beginning of the sonata had slipped his mind, discovering with a fright that he had left the manuscript at home. He resigned himself to disturbing Ysaÿe (whose foot had been amputated due to gout and could only leave the table with difficulty). He explained the situation to his master but to his great surprise, Ysaÿe did not remember it either! Ysaÿe advised him to start from the main theme and went back to his table in a very bad mood. A little later, while going on stage, Gingold recovered his memory and could not help laughing throughout his performance. The work became a great success and is now an essential part of the repertoire for solo violin. One can also notice the influence of Debussy’s La mer
in the development section.
from notes by Philippe Graffin © 1997