With the Poème élégiaque
, Op 12, written in 1892–3, Ysaÿe moved away from the pieces he wrote merely for virtuosic purposes in his youth. The only legacy from the virtuoso practice of the past is the scordatura: the G string is here tuned to an F, giving a dark colour, the violin sounding sometimes like a viola. First written for violin and piano, Ysaÿe later orchestrated the piece. The work is dedicated to Gabriel Fauré, from whom he had already commissioned a piano quintet (Op 89, which the composer was to take a further ten years to finish). However, it was upon Ernest Chausson that the Poème élégiaque
was to have a great influence, serving as the example for the famous Poème
which he would write three years later. Ysaÿe the interpreter participated here fully in the creative process. The similarities between the two works are striking: the general atmosphere, the Wagnerism, the shape, the sublime trills at the end … Ysaÿe helped in writing the violin part, in particular the cadenza of the work which Chausson eventually called ‘mon– ton poème’ (‘my–your poème’).
from notes by Philippe Graffin © 1997