World-premiere recordings of newly discovered works are given with panache

Philippe Graffin: Rêves

The Strad Issue: May 2024

Description: World-premiere recordings of newly discovered works are given with panache

Musicians: Philippe Graffin (violin) Marisa Gupta (piano) Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Jean-Jacques Kantorow

Works: Ysaÿe: Poème concertant for violin and orchestra (orch.Erika Vega); Violin Concerto in E minor (orch.Xavier Falques); Two Mazurkas de salon; Rêve d’enfant

Catalogue number: AVIE AV2650 

The selling point of this album is its two world-premiere recordings of Ysaÿe’s recently unearthed Poème concertant (see February issue) and his E minor Violin Concerto. Philippe Graffin plays the Poème with athletic facility, its drama ebbing and flowing over its 20-odd minutes, sometimes capricious, at other times powerfully rhetorical, with an eloquent, questing cadenza before its emphatic close. The violin writing is rhapsodic, agile and wide-ranging.

Ysaÿe’s Violin Concerto owes something to Mendelssohn. The violin comes straight in with a nimble theme building quickly to a tutti. The solo writing that follows twists and dances, restless and always inventive. There are passages of repose before outbreaks of scurrying energy and an extended cadenza of arabesques and gleeful octaves, all played with great character and panache. The central Andante is harmonically and emotionally unsettled. Graffin dispatches with aplomb and many an exuberant flourish the jubilant dancing quality of the finale. In the first of the two mazurkas Graffin is wistful and rhythmically free; in the second he gets stuck into the 3rds with muscular relish. The Rêve d’enfant provides an ending of gentle repose. The recording is clear and close.