Extase, Op. 21
In this masterclass, Professor Olivier Charlier works with student Lior Lieneman on interpretation, expression, and coordination in Extase by Ysaÿe. Charlier discusses the unique elements in this music and challenges the student to exaggerate her musical ideas and make something special out of her interpretation. He encourages her to highlight the surprising moments and experiment with various different tone colors, uses of vibrato, dynamics, and more to create an individualized atmosphere. Charlier conveys the importance of always playing with intention and having clear musical ideas. He then offers advice on how to collaborate with a pianist to create unified rhythms, tempi, and dynamics and to allow both instrumentalists’ musical visions to come to fruition.
Pushing the limits of expressivity.
Experimenting with tone color and resonance.
Bringing out the surprising dynamic effects or harmonies.
Coordinating the rhythm, timing, and balance with the piano.
Always playing with intention and clearly communicating it.
Eugène Ysaÿe was a talented virtuoso violinist who also wrote numerous pieces for the instrument. Over the course of his career, he wrote nine poems for string soloists and orchestra. He enjoyed the poem form because it gave him a format in which he could express numerous emotions and moods without having to adhere to specific traditions or expectations. Generally, the poems consisted of one continuous movement with many different contrasting sections. He composed Extase for violin and orchestra in 1921 and dedicated it to his talented friend and fellow violin virtuoso Mischa Elman. The piece opens with a rich but somber melody in the violin, which eventually begins to flow forward, gaining speed and intensity. At the climax of the work, the violinist engages in complex passages full of runs, double stops, and music in the highest register of the instrument. The piece eventually winds down to a peaceful, singing final section before coming to a hushed close.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this violin masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Olivier Charlier’s feedback and comments.
Revealed by the Long-Thibaud Foundation competition
Olivier Charlier counts undoubtedly among the great violinists. He conquers the public with the natural grace of pure playing, as an exceptionally dedicated and gifted performer whose virtuosity supremely serves the music.
Of a remarkable precocity, he enters the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 10, and received illustrious support, as Nadia Boulanger, Yehudi Menuhin and Henryk Szeryng. Follows an impressive series of international rewards: Competition of Munich, Montreal, Sibelius, Jacques Thibaud, Indianapolis, Young Concert Artists (New york).
A brilliant career opens then and he is invited by the Parisian orchestras : Orchestre National de France, Orchestre de Paris, Philharmonique de Radio France, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Orchestre de l'Opera...) as well as numerous international orchestras: London Philharmonic, Symphony Orchestra of Berlin, Tonnhalle of Zurich, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonic of Monte Carlo, RAI of Turin, BBC Orchestras, Pittsburgh Symphony, Orchestra of the Foundation Gulbenkian, National Orchestra of Belgium, Phiharmonique of Liège, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony, Tokyo Philharmonic, Orchestras of Montreal, Sydney, Mexico, Caracas...) and with conductors : Serge Baudo, Alain Lombard, Theodor Gushlbauer, Sakari Oramo, Yann-Pascal Tortelier, Armin Jordan, Pascal Rophé, Emmanuel Krivine, Gianandrea Noseda, Karl-Anton Rickenbacker, Lawrence Foster, James Judd, Yutaka Sado, Gustavo Dudamel, Jerzy Semkow, Charles Dutoit, Hans Graf, Klaus Weise, Michel Plasson...
His discography testifies of a great eclecticism: Beethoven, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Grieg, St Saëns, Lalo... Next to the concerto "L'arbre des songes" of Dutilleux that he recorded twice, we also find works of Pierné, Lili Boulanger, Vierne, Gerard Schurmann, John McEwen, Edward Gregson, Roberto Gerhard, Cyril Scott, among whom several world premieres. His most recent recording is dedicated to Mozart concertos, with Prague Chamber Orchestra. Vivaldi will be released this year.
The Marlboro Festival was for the young Olivier a revelation, and he is since a fervent chambrist. He participates regularly to numerous festivals: Prades, "Folles journées" of Nantes, La Roque d'Anthéron, Orangerie of Sceaux, Berlioz festival, Nice, Radio-France-Montpellier...
Eugène Ysaÿe was a Belgian genius violinist and composer, and was born in Liège in 1858. His whole family was musically inclined, and he started learning the violin at an early age, with his father. After learning music in his home country, he moved to Paris to pursue his studies.
He toured intensely as a solo artist for prestigious orchestras and assumed a teaching position, which he kept for many years. Many famous composers dedicated some of their major works to him. He married fellow-Belgian Louise Bourdau in 1886, and together they had five children. When Louise died in 1924, he re-married with 44-year his junior violinist Jeanette Dincin, who cared for him as his health declined, until he passed away in his home in Forest, Belgium in 1931.
He left behind an impressive musical catalog: six Sonatas for Solo Violin op. 27, the unaccompanied Sonata for Cello, op. 28, one Sonata for Two Violins, eight Poèmes for various instruments (one or two violins, violin and cello, string quartet) and orchestra (Poème élégiaque, Poème de l'Extase, Chant d'hiver, Poème nocturne, among others), pieces for string orchestra without basses (including Poème de l'Exil), two piano trios, a string quintet, and an opera, Peter the Miner. His Eugène Ysaÿe Collection, which can be found in the Royal Belgium library, also includes many scores, letters, photographs, films, and recordings.