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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67074
Recording details: November 1998
Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh, Scotland
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: August 1999
Total duration: 13 minutes 37 seconds

'Hyperion holds a trump card in Philippe Graffin, whose elegant, emotionally charged playing is strongly reminiscent of the young Menuhin (he has a similar sort of sound) and whose understanding of the idiom seems to me second to none – certainly among modern players' (Gramophone)

‘Philippe Graffin is fully equal to [the] formidable technical demands, and also strikes an essential spark illuminating the music’s character and passionate stimulus’ (The Daily Telegraph)

'The delightful surprise here is the Second Concerto, full of youthful exuberance. Philippe Graffin, with rich, firm tone, gives performances full of temperament, warmly supported by Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Scottish' (The Guardian)

'All are beautifully crafted, irresistibly violinistic and catchily tuneful. Graffin is a real stylist, a player in the Franco-Belgian tradition with exquisitely sweet and focused tone and enviable bravura in the technical high jinks Saint-Saëns demands of his soloist. A delectable issue' (The Sunday Times)

‘stylish performances and excellent sound’ (Classic FM Magazine)

'Graffin clearly believes in these works, delivering exhilarating and passionate interpretations throughout … an outstanding disc in every way' (Classic CD)

‘The French virtuoso Philippe Graffin is a sensitive and intelligent soloist, wonderfully attuned to Saint-Saëns’ conservative but always tasteful subtleties’ (The Scotsman)

‘There are few more exciting young fiddlers around at the moment than Frenchman Philippe Graffin. Three previous Hyperion releases of music by Ysaÿe and Chausson have already revealed Graffin’s abundant gifts, and in this generous new Saint-Saëns coupling … one can once again only marvel at playing of such thrilling temperament, consummate intelligence and stylistic flair’ (Hi-Fi News)

'The brilliant French violinist Philippe Graffin … demonstrates his skill on this new Hyperion recording' (The Evening Standard)

'Flawless performances' (Classical Ireland)

‘the young French violinist, Philippe Graffin, performs with great élan and virtuosity’ (Contemporary Review)

'An auspicious beginning for this new Hyperion series' (Classical Express)

Violin Concerto No 1 in A major, Op 20
composer

Allegro  [4'55]
[Reprise]  [4'26]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
If the C major Concerto shows Saint-Saëns handling resourcefully a traditional form, in the A major work of the following year his inventiveness extends to the actual formal outlines—a single Allegro movement enclosing an Andante middle section. It was the first of several works he composed for the great Spanish violinist Pablo de Sarasate, in 1859 just fifteen years old but already a famous virtuoso. It’s tempting to see the Concerto as a portrait of the young maestro—impulsive and mercurial at the start and then, at the next solo entry, graceful and elegant. (We can hear these qualities in the recordings Sarasate made in 1904.) The soloist’s opening gesture, with its chordal motif followed by a rhythmic figure, is rarely absent for long, and gives rise to a large variety of different continuations. The Andante interlude has the simplest design—an extended violin melody framed by an introduction and postlude incorporating a tentative woodwind figure accompanied by violin trills. The organization of the Allegro is much more complex and dynamic, especially the way the material is re-ordered and re-composed after the Andante.

from notes by Duncan Druce © 1999

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