Philippe Graffin


Reviews of Graffin’s hugely successful recordings appear on his Discography page. Below is a selection of recent concert reviews:

Philippe Graffin at the BBC PROMS / 9th August 2005
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Violin Concerto / BBC Concert Orchestra / Barry Wordsworth

"Most of the audience, I guess, had turned up to hear one of the cult rediscoveries of the year, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's Violin Concerto. As it happened, the orchestral parts for an early American performance of the piece went down the the Titanic. Rapidly rewritten, they made it to the States; but only in recent years, thanks to Philippe Graffin's advocacy on disc, has the concerto won British hearts.
Bittersweet harmonies, melancholy, ever-regenerating melody and spritely rhythms: they were all there in a powerful central performance that certainly stole the limelight."

The Times / 11 Aug 05

"It would be easy to pick holes in the Concerto's rambling continuity and slack structure but, with such attractive material, it more than earned its place. Luxury casting, too, with the mellifluous tones of Frenchman Philippe Graffin."
Daily Telegraph / 10 Aug 05

"Elgar's Enigma Variations and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's Violin Concerto provided the ballast in Wordsworth's programme. The concerto, first performed in 1912 (after the original set of orchestral parts went down with the Titanic) seems to have been rehabiliated after the release this year of a new recording. Its themes aren't memorable, but they are attractive, especially the lyrical slow movement, in a style that owes a lot to Dvorak, and a bit to Elgar as well. The soloist was Philippe Graffin, a bit swoony in his phrasing but otherwise nicely idiomatic."
The Guardian / 11 Aug 05

"The French virtuoso next championed Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's recently revived Violin Concerto (1911), a pleasantly Edwardian synthesis of Dvorak, Tchaikovsky and Elgar."
The Independent / 11 Aug 05

"As for Coleridge-Taylor's concerto (1911), there were moments of svelte harmonic charm in the central Andante, and these were conveyed with rare sweetness of tone by the soloist Philippe Graffin."
Sunday Times / 14 Aug 05

"Philippe Graffin in the 9 August Prom brought to it a whole-hearted passion with crisp, articulate playing. The second movement, emotionally as well as literally the heart of the work, is the most affecting, weaving fine melody within mostly sombre and sometimes menacing orchestral colours. Graffin's playing, with its beautifully focused sound and supple lines, was seductive."
The Strad / Nov 05
Graffin has recently given recitals in Oxford, Cambridge, Amsterdam and New York. The central work was the RAVEL Sonata. Below are the reviews from his New York performances for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center:

"Chamber Music Society regulars and a splendid young French violinist, Philippe Graffin, mixed and matched in music by those two French composers [Saint-Saëns and Fauré] as well as Ravel. [.]
    Ravel, in his sonata, put aside the seductiveness and sheer gorgeousness that were his usual tools. This may be his most satisfying piece, invested with highly original counterpoint and abruptly dissonant. The middle movement, "Blues" has a theatrical element but swooping portamento has been civilised into something more Ile-de-France than Mississippi Delta. Mr Graffin caught the icy beauty perfectly."

NEW YORK TIMES / February 15 2005
click here to read whole review:

"Graffin proved himself both understanding of the Ravel, and technically proficient in it.
    To the opening Allegretto, he lent urbanity, clarity and finesse. He caught this music's many tensions (for example, he provided the right shudderings between relaxed, melodic lines.) He seemed to relish what Ravel had written for him.
    The second movement is labeled Blues: Moderato - and from Messrs Graffin and Schub it was idiomatic and fetching. They resisted the temptation to ham it up. This jazzy movement really doesn't work without some Gallic cool.
    The final movement had a nice, coy beginning, before the perpetual motion got going - and then our players whirled and swirled correctly and enjoyably.
    On the second half of the programme was one of the finest works of the French chamber literature: Fauré's Piano Quartet No 1 in C minor Op 15. The Scherzo sparked, from all players. The pleasure they took in tripping through this movement was communicable. In the Adagio, they expressed a noble solemnity. The adagio represents some of Fauré's best writing, ever, and these players allowed us to enter into a kind of dreamland. The last movement was fleet and on tip-toe. It was also sly, nuanced - very French. The ending was big, swooning, rhapsodic, a stirring close."

NEW YORK SUN February 14 2005

"Jeux" by V. Barkauskas in Vilnius, Lithuania

"We instantly discovered the superb schooling of the soloist. His tone is pure and light, gracious and filigree."
Lietuvos rytas, 4 Feb 2003

US première of Chausson Poème in chamber version

"... in fact, I heard many say that the Saturday evening concert was the best of the entire series ... the programm opened with Poème Op 25 for violin and string quartet by Ernest Chausson. Originally written for violin and orchestra, this performance was the US première with string quartet. The composition is elaborate and detailed in its construction and the violin solo passages by Graffin made, not only this masterpiece, but the entire evening, a rich musical experience."
El Paso Times, 21 Jan 2003

World Première of Barkauskas "Jeux" at Consonances Festival 2002

Le festival Consonances se distingue dans le domaine de la musique classique par sa décontraction et sa convivialité. C’est un peu des "folles journéees nazairiennes" où toutes les rencontres sont possibles, ou règne un grand esprit d’ouverture entre les musiciens, excellents soloistes de tous les horizons, et vers le public. L’association A Tempo qui gère désormais ce festival a su rester fidèle à tout ça. Pour preuve, une soirée particulièrement bien "balancée" mardi 17 septembre à la Chapelle des Franciscains avec la création mondiale d’une oeuvre spécialement composée pour cette édition de Consonances. ... Le directeur artistique de Consonances, le violiniste Philippe Graffin, en fut le soloiste virtuose, entouré d’un ensemble des musiciens du festival. Comment ne pas être emporté pas ces "Jeux" très ludiques, initiation convaincante à la musique contemporaine, bien le but finalement de ce que l'on appelle à l’étranger "The Festival of St Nazaire."
Jean-Jacques Lester / Nantes Poches / 25 Sept 2002

The Consonances Festival distinguishes itself in the field of classical music by its feeling of relaxation and friendliness. It is almost "Mad Nazairian Days" where everything is possible, where their reigns a great spirit of openess between the musicians, all excellent soloists from all parts of the world, and towards the public. The A Tempo association which now organises the festival has been faithful to all that. A particularly well balanced evening on Tues 17th September at the Chapelle des Franciscains proved this with the world première of a work written especially for this year’s Consonances... The Artistic Director of Consonances, the violinist Philippe Graffin, was the virtuoso soloist, surrounded by an ensemble of musicians from the festival. How could one not be carried away by these "Games" - very playful and a convincing initiation into contemporary music, which is the objective of what outside France is called "The Festival of St Nazaire".

Concert with Johannesburg Philharmonic

"Apart from a formidable technique, Philippe Graffin has that most important of qualities: temperament, the ingredient that compels attention from the very first note."
Pretoria News 25 July 2002

Saint-Saens Violin Concerto No 3 with Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

"And once again it was the concerto that emerged the winner. Camille Saint-Saëns’ Third Violin Concerto may not be the greatest music of the late 19th century but it is an agreeable enough display piece which, in the hands of a passionate interpreter, can end up convincing you that it is a better work that it really is.
So it was with Philippe Graffin, who brought to the concerto such a refinement, poise and elegance that it was easy to believe that here was a concerto to stand comparison with those of Beethoven, Brahms or Tchaikovsky."

Liverpool Echo / 26 April 2001

Wigmore Hall / Chausson Centenary

Hallé Orchestra / Mark Elder
"Graffin’s silken, easy tone rang clear of the quartet’s brittle, tugging texture. His bow is so gentle that it seems only to be wiping the strings. The start of the work demands from the violinist a long two-part folksong solo which Graffin played with perfect balance.
Earlier he had played the Violin Sonata in A by Chausson’s teacher Cesar Franck, which suited his shining, forward tone. The allegro turned his bow into a jumping piston, the recitative and fantasia were pure, impassioned soap-box oration, and the kiss-chase finale, violin tailing piano, twisted and turned like a fish in the sun."

Rick Jones Nov 99

Chausson Concert at Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

"The solo violinist was Philippe Graffin, whose ardent and aristocratic playing was exactly right for this music, in which a blend of Franck and Fauré with whiffs of Wagner results in a heady brew."
Sunday Telegraph 27 Feb 2000

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Caroline Baird Artists is a full member of the International Artist Managers' Association