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Hyperion Records

Click cover art to view larger version
The Maures Mountains (1906/7) by Henri-Edmond Cross (1856-1910)
Private Collection / © Christie's Images / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDH55396
Recording details: June 2001
Ulster Hall, Belfast, United Kingdom
Produced by Chris Hazell
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: March 2002
Total duration: 15 minutes 46 seconds

'Graffin's intelligent and characterful playing serves up a rare feast … ‘Rare’ is doubly true: the quality of the playing here deserves that adjective … lusciously scored and richly violinistic … such a combination of enterprise, imagination and responsive musicianship is rare indeed' (Gramophone)

'Everything here is delightful: the disc is a treasure trove of Gallic urbanity and fine technique … sumptuous … Philippe Graffin is one of the biggest young talents among French violinists—the programme seems to be his choice, which proves he has taste and discrimination, and is an excellent showcase for his talents' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Philippe Graffin is just the player for these delectable byways of late-Romantic French repertoire … pure sound, inflected by a magical range of legato bow strokes and vibratos … Graffin plays [the Fauré] as though he believes in every note—what sublime advocacy! Graffin and colleagues—Thierry Fischer and the Ulster Orchestra provide commendably alert and (where appropriate) fiery accompaniments throughout—once again turn a top-notch performance … superb performances, then, boldly and atmospherically engineered' (International Record Review)

'Delicious, decorous and very slightly old-fashioned, this programme of rarities is the quiet musical equivalent of a six-course dinner drawn from Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cookery … lovely playing' (The Independent on Sunday)

'Here, with a warm-blooded Ulster orchestra in support, [Graffin] brings a host of rare works to the fore. All are rewarding' (The Strad)

'Philippe Graffin is one of the most sensitive and refined of violinists; he is also a champion of lesser-known French music … Graffin’s reflective approach perfectly suits the elusive beauty of the remnants of Fauré’s early violin concerto' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Graffin plays with loving care, and the Ulster Orchestra under Thierry Fischer are with him in spirit all the way' (The Irish Times)

'Thanks to Philippe Graffin's bravura playing and rich accompaniments from the Ulster Orchestra and its new principal conductor Thierry Fischer, this anthology of 19th-century violin rarities delivers a spellbinding addition to the Hyperion catalogue' (Music Week)

'This is exactly the kind of disc that Hyperion has perfected over many years. Originally released roughly a decade ago to considerable acclaim it is now re-released on their budget Helios label. Excellence of this calibre available at bargain price makes it all but compulsory for anyone interested in rare repertoire for the violin who missed it first time around' (MusicWeb International)

'One of the most charming discs of French music it has been my pleasure to review … [the pieces] could well have been written for Graffin’s silky smooth playing, each work so lovingly shaped, the fast passages despatched with an easy virtuosity. In Fischer and the admirable Ulster Orchestra, Graffin has devoted colleagues, the engineers adding icing to the cake' (Yorkshire Post)

'One of the season's most alluring CDs' (Strings, USA)

'Thierry Fischer, à la tête d’un excellent Orchestre de l’Ulster, sert très bien son soliste, avec une légère tendance à la grandiloquence. Conclusion: un disque sans concurrence et rudement bien élaboré' (Classica, France)

Violin Concerto in D minor, Op 14
written for Ovide Musin; the 3rd movement was never written; the 2nd, Andante, was first performed by Musin & Messager on 20 December 1878 but is now lost; 1st, and only surviving, movement first performed by Musin under Édouard Colonne on 12 April 1880

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
As a faithful chamber-music player of the newly founded Société nationale de musique, the young Belgian violinist Ovide Musin (who was Ysaÿe’s elder by just four years), represented for Gabriel Fauré a more approachable and less imposing partner for his projected Violin Concerto (1878–80). Fresh from the success of his Violin Sonata No 1, Op 13, Fauré seems to have seen in the violin an ideal medium for his music. Judging by its large scoring and the scale of its first movement this must have been a very ambitious enterprise worthy of his enthusiasm. Although one does not immediately associate Fauré with the concept of the concerto, with its tradition of virtuosity and bravura, one can see that Saint-Saëns showed a pathway here. At this period in his life Fauré’s composing had to make way for a barrage of administrative duty and the concerto therefore had a lengthy gestation.

The projected second movement Andante was written first, and performed on 20 December 1878 at the Société nationale in Paris, by Musin with André Messager at the piano. By the following summer Fauré wrote to his friend Pauline Viardot that he was happy with the progress of the concerto, and believed that it would soon be finished. He stressed that he had material for the finale, and that although it was a difficult task he hoped to complete it.

But destiny had another view. Fauré never could bring himself to complete the last movement of his concerto, and Musin performed the first and second movements only on 12 April 1880, with Édouard Colonne conducting. While it might be easier for us, with hindsight, to see the intrinsic dichotomy at the heart of the project, I find this attempt—a trace of his inner searching—all the more moving. Furthermore, Fauré never forgot this music. The Andante was later transformed to become his Op 75 for violin and piano, and in his very last work, the String Quartet Op 121 written some thirty years later, he reused the first motif of the Violin Concerto. While the score of the Andante has been lost, the first movement—the full score of which has survived—is a rare and precious testimony to Fauré’s subtle knowledge of orchestration.

from notes by Philippe Graffin © 2002

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