Philippe Graffin Discography

Philippe Graffin has recorded over 30 CDs for the major independent record labels Avie, Cobra, Dutton, Hyperion, Onyx and Timpani. Many are world première performances. Below are some reviews of a selection of his most recent issues.

PHILIPPE’S LATEST CD: ‘FIDDLER’S BLUES’ • with Claire Désert • AVIE (Feb 2019)
YSAYE Sonate posthume pour violon seul Op 27bis, YSAYE Petite Fantaisie romantique, RAVEL Sonata, DEBUSSY Clair de lune, Berceuse sur le nom de Fauré, ENESCU Sonata No 3, Hora Unirii

‘The big story here is the first recording of a previously undiscovered seventh unaccompanied violin sonata by Eugene Ysaÿe… Played with flourishing panache and easy command, it makes an electrifying opening to this deceptively titled recital’….’The shorter pieces share the general mood of passion tempered by refinement. Graffin’s gleaming, elegant virtuosity never degenerates either into lassitude or fireworks for fireworks’ sake and the exquisite little unaccompanied transcription of Clair de lune (co-written with David Matthews) deserves to become a standard encore’. Gramophone, April 2019
BRITTEN • DELIUS Vln Concertos • The Philharmonia/Collon • Royal Scottish National Orchestra / Lloyd-Jones • DUTTON

‘In the compelling account of the Britten … Graffin ignites a consistently nourishing and sparky rapport with Nicholas Collon at the helm of the Philharmonia…. I defy anyone not to be profoundly moved by the reserves of pathos and emotional candour that this intrepid fiddler quarries in the concerto’s closing minutes. It’s the standout item on this CD and no fan of either Britten or Graffin should miss hearing it’ Gramophone Oct 2015

‘A masterful account, this, of a masterful work’ BBC Music Magazine, Dec 2015
JONGEN Violin Concerto, Fantaisie & Adagio Symphonique • LAZZARI Rhapsodie • Royal Flemish Philharmonic / Antwerp Philharmonic • Martyn Brabbins • HYPERION

‘Graffin’s tonal transparency, ear-ringing intonation and phrasal intuitiveness … are a constant source of pleasure. The Strad, April 2015

‘Graffin is, as usual, superb in every respect throughout the CD, with a luscious tone, expansive and nuanced phrasing, and sensitivity and passion to burn’. The Whole Note, Canada, March 2015
TCHAIKOVSKY Concerto • SHCHEDRIN Concerto Parlando • PROKOFIEV Five Melodies • DVARIONAS Pezzo Elegiaco • Lithuanian National Philharmonic • Martin Hurrell • Agrest • Servenikas • COBRA

‘It’s always rewarding to encounter a musician of the calibre and risk-taking flair of Philippe Graffin. Rest assured, there are no half measures nor any whiff of stale routine here: his is playing of maximum conviction, strong personality and sparky temperament, in which nothing is taken for granted. In short, he always make you listen’. Gramophone , Sept 2014
David MATTHEWS Violin Cto No 1 • Bournemouth Symphony • Concerto No 2 • Orchestra Nova • Vass • DUTTON

‘The extensive Vivacissimo finale … provides the most breathtaking bravura on the disc, superbly negotiated by Philippe Graffin, whose beauty of tone in the slower, gentler sections is also a thing to marvel at.’ BBC Music, Feb 2011

‘The French violinist Philippe Graffin … offers effortlessly spine-tingly interpretations’ Fanfare, USA May/June 2011

‘On goûte l’une des plus délicieuses interpétations de la Marche miniature viennoise depuis celles de Kreisler…Un disque réfléchi, sensible et très attachant.’ Diapason, Feb 2009

‘A startlingly beautiful collection on encore pieces, played with skill, with, and seductive tone…Graffin is one of the most gifted and well-rounded players you’ll ever hear’, Strings, USA, March 09
MOZART Vln Cto No 3 • Sinfonia Concertante • Duos • Het Brabants Orkest • Imai • AVIE

‘Graffin and Imai are brilliant “conversationalists”, revelling in the music repartee … and playing the notes with sumptuous tone and immaculate style’. Sunday Times Classical CD of the week, 5 Aug 07

‘On s’émerveille des solos, d’une élégance remarquable … Philippe Graffin nous dévoile ici un Mozart familer et pourtant inattendu, étonnant de pondération et de fantaisie’. Le Monde de la Musique, Nov 07
ELGAR Violin Cto • CHAUSSON Poème [original manuscript versions] • Royal Liverpool Philharmonic • Vernon Handley • AVIE

‘The beauty he brings to the central Andante is unsurpassed on disc. The Finale misses nothing in red-blooded virtuosity or weight, and Graffin dives around his instrument with a real sense of outgoing brio’. The Strad, July 2006

‘Romantic ardour comes easily to the French violinist Philippe Graffin, and his fiery playing is well suited to the tender musings of the Elgar concerto’, The Times, 21 April 2006

‘All sounds fresh and vibrant in the hands of one of the most versatile violinists of the moment.’ The Observer, 1 May 2005

‘Philippe Graffin strikes me as today’s quintessential French violinist’, American Record Guide Nov/Dec 2005

‘surely the benchmark recording of Ravel’s early ‘posthumous Sonata’, Gramophone Dec 2005
COLERIDGE-TAYLOR • DVORAK Violin Concertos • Johannesburg Philharmonic • Hankinson • AVIE

‘Philippe Graffin triumphantly demonstrates what an effective, endearing work it is, acutely responsive as he is to its bittersweet lyricism – try the gorgeous central Andante – while equally relishing the many opportunities for solo display in both the outer movements.’ Gramophone Editor’s Choice, July 2004

‘The concerto speaks as vividly as its partner on this disc, the violin concerto by Dvorak. The immensely gifted Graffin plays both works beautifully’. Sunday Times , 23 May 2004

‘Philippe Graffin’s customary silk-toned refinement and expressive intensity works wonders’ The Strad, June 2004

Earlier benchmark recordings

RARE FRENCH WORKS: CANTELOUBE Poème • FAURE Violin Concerto • GUIRAUD Caprice • LALO Fantaisie norvégienne, • Guitarre • SAINT-SAENS Morceaux de Concert • Ulster Orchestra • Fischer • HYPERION

‘Rare” is doubly true: the quality of the playing here deserves that adjective… Such a combination of enterprise, imagination and responsive musicianship is rare indeed’. Gramophone May 2002

‘un violoniste au talent incontestable … panache et brio font partie de son vocabulaire, mais les difficultés techniques ne sont pas outrageusement affichées; la sonorité est belle et fine, sans être éclatante; le vibrato n’est jamais utilise pour impressioner; l’articulation et l’intonation ne sont en aucun cas mises en défaut ….Conclusion: un disque sans concurrence et rudiment bien élaboré.’ Classica, June 2002
SAINT-SAENS Concerto for Violin Nos 1, 2, & 3 • BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra • Brabbins • HYPERION ‘The Romantic Violin’ Volume 1

‘Hyperion holds a trump card in Philippe Graffin whose elegant, emotionally charged playing is strongly reminiscent of the young Menuhin’. Gramophone, October 1999

‘one can once again only marvel at playing of such thrilling temperament, consummate intelligence and stylistic flair’. Hi Fi News & Record Review, Jan 2000

‘Graffin is a real stylist, a player in the Franco-Belgian tradition with exquisitely sweet and focused tone and enviable bravura in the technical hijinks Saint-Saëns demands’. Sunday Times , 8 August 1999
CHAUSSON Poème • Piano Trio • Andante et Allegro • Pièce • with Pascal Devoyon, Gary Hoffman, Charles Neidich & the Chilingirian Quartet • HYPERION

‘This is the first recording of a newly rediscovered version of the Poème, with string quartet and piano accompaniment. As a chamber work, the music’s essentially intimate tone is felt more strongly, and Graffin gives a plangent account of the solo part, with that sense of freedom that Ysaÿe, the work’s sponsor, would certainly have conveyed’. Gramophone, July 1998

‘a provocative, tenderly phrased and sympathetic performance by Graffin and the Chilingirian’ Classic CD ‘Choice’, June 1998
YSAYE 6 Sonatas for Solo Violin • Poème élégiaque • Rêve d’enfant • with Pascal Devoyon • HYPERION

‘Though he follows Ysaÿe’s very detailed instructions more exactly than most violinists, there’s also a strong element of fantasy, the music developing in a seemingly unconstrained and spontaneous way’. Gramophone, July 1997

‘a mesmerising identification with what this music is all about. One listens as though on some hot-line to the original source of the composer’s inspiration’. Hi-Fi News & Record Review, July 1997

‘Philippe Graffin est l’un des plus grands violonistes que nous ayons. Ces sonates d’Ysaÿe sont l’éclatante demonstration… Venons-en à l’interprétation elle même. Elle est magistrale … Graffin joue avec finesse et intelligence sans toutefois manquer de bravoure… Bref, la réussite de ce disque est immense’. Répertoire, Sept 1997
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