The fifth sonata is dedicated to Mathieu Crickboom, who was the second violin of Ysaÿe’s quartet (and therefore involved in the premieres of Debussy’s quartet and Chausson’s Concert
). The first movement has great poetry but is also sprinkled with autobiographical elements—a souvenir of ‘vacances studieuses’ where, to avoid the summer heat, the violinists would awake early. ‘L’aurore’ (‘The dawn’) is therefore also violinistic, describing the morning exercises with first the ‘sons filés’ (very long notes, without end, to develop control of the bow, something of which Ysaÿe was an advocate), then the work on intonation, verifying the note with pizzicato on open strings; then the arpeggios come with the rising of the sun. This is followed by a picnic and a ‘Danse rustique’, a sort of Walloon farandole.
from notes by Philippe Graffin © 1997