philippe graffin

March 27, 2004 at 09:53 PM · hey guys

What do u think of the french violinist philippe graffin? Heard im 3 months ago in cape town and i was really disappointed with the fact that he's supposed to be internationally renowned but... he had memory lapses galore in his vieuxtemps! There was a point where he started reading from the conductor's score. If anyone has heard him please challenge me to a debate!


March 27, 2004 at 10:07 PM · There was quite a detailed and interesting article about him in The Strad a few issues back.

I haven't heard him live, but judging by his Hyperion recordings, in my opinion he is an accomplished artist who I feel is under-rated, or at least under-recognised. I'm not saying I would put him in the top handful of players of all time, but there is no doubt in my mind that his recordings (at least) are certainly worth a listen to. I have plans to buy some of them this year when funds allow.

As for your experiences regarding his live performances, I guess there are a multitude of reasons for memory lapses and mistakes. Your post got me thinking about my own experiences of listening to live performances. I have to confess I have never witnessed a significant memory slip (ie one so bad the orchestra and artist couldn't recover from immediately and discreetly). I've witnessed lots of broken strings, but nothing catastrophic, even though I have read about such things.

I think unless there are multiple reports of Mr. Graffin falling victim to memory loss or significant mistakes, I wouldn't really judge him by that incident. You never know, the poor guy might have been "pressed into service" at short notice and simply did not have the time to aclimatise himself sufficiently with the score. He might have had a week where he had a heap of other things weighing heavily on his mind. He might not have felt well. He might just have been having a bad day, etc, etc.

Remember, performers are only human and have great days, OK days and horrible days.

March 27, 2004 at 10:58 PM · btw, I should add that his CDs contain a lot of music that is infrequently performed and in some cases little known. So in my book he also scores "bonus" points for given his listeners the chance to access performances might not otherwise get the opportunity to hear.

March 27, 2004 at 11:26 PM · I respect anyone who plays good music that is rarely performed and not easy to play.

Graffin recorded ysaye's transcription of chopins first ballade, I love violin transcriptions for chopin!

March 28, 2004 at 12:26 AM · You are dead right. There is so much great music out there that the really big names won't touch. Still, such music is a great choice for high calibre players who are not household names and whose record companies can't compete on volume terms with the big name labels.

Artists like Graffin and labels like Hyperion and Chandos really flesh out the repertoire and make listening to violin music that much more fulfilling.

March 28, 2004 at 04:06 AM · i agree with what people have said about graffin, we need more soloists willing to record what he does.

tia, i think it's interesting that he performed vieuxtemps, besides the memory issue, how was his overall technique?

March 28, 2004 at 09:53 AM · Well it was ok..not great though. But you're right about the fact that he has more of an advantage because his speciality is on rare french music. I just feel that after watching other great violinists like bell and vengi hi just doesn't average. And to seems as though he has frenquent bad days because i remember him performing the dvorak concerto last year the same way. Nerves could be a factor i don't know....

March 28, 2004 at 04:27 PM · I've never heard him live but I have his Hyperion recording of complete (well almost) Saint-Saens violin and piano music and I think it is superb. So maybe you caught him on a bad day - it does hapen even to the greatest artists.

March 28, 2004 at 10:27 PM · This original post prompted me yesterday to spend a few hours auditioning sound samples of Graffin's recordings, as well as seeking out recordings of lesser performed music.

It then struck me how neglected and little known some French music is, but English music as well. How many performances, for example of the Britten, Delius, Walton and Stanford concertos have people heard over he last few years? There are not that many. And then there is the Concerto No. 1 by the Estonian composer Eduard Tubin, which I only heard for the first time about a month ago. These are all great pieces of music and one really has to wonder why they are so neglected. We really have to thank the artists who seek this repertoire out, but unfortunately it is still remains far more neglected than it should be.

April 12, 2004 at 04:39 AM · Hi there,

I've attended about 3 of Philippe Graffin's concerts, and have to say he was incredible in each one! I didn't notice any memory lapses. I find him an exceptional talent, who plays without the excessive bravura and ego of many of his more famous counterparts, and with a rare musical expressiveness and subtlety of phrasing and tone-colours. His technique looked excellent. Perhaps he was having a bad day with the Vieuxtemps? Some of the greatest performers of all time suffer from stress-induced memory lapses. I just discovered him a few years ago, but find in him a talent that I would definitely rate amongs the best in the world. Maybe the fact that he doesn't play much of the established repertoire makes him less accessible? I completely agree that there is a severe lack decent recordings of lesser known repertoire (on most instruments), and welcome labels that make efforts to record these works. I also wish that the bigger labels would be more daring and go out on a limb to get some wonderful repertoire into the mainstream!

April 12, 2004 at 04:58 PM · Well i don't know where you're from but i know that he was playing really badly here in south africa. I don't know if he did it on purpose because he thought that being an african country we don't know anything about music and so it would be perfectly acceptable i don't know....if so then i think it was very unprofessional of him. Musicians should give their best no matter what. Like i said i've heard him play 3 times in south africa and on those 3 occasions he was never ''on top of his game''

April 12, 2004 at 11:44 PM · Greetings,

just out of interest, who are the top teachers in South Africa these days. We started to get some good info from a contributor and then he fell off the map for some reason. Maybe you can help to let us know the big picture better,



April 15, 2004 at 03:30 PM · There's one teacher in particular in South Africa who's a world class teacher.Have u heard of Jack de Wet? I think he's the best teacher here at the moment. Although he's nearly 80 now he manages to constantly change by keeping up to date with the world standard of violin technique. Many of his pupils are doing very well overseas. Playing in the london phil orchestras and studying at prestigeous music schools like julliard and cologne. I think africa is very neglected as far as classical music is concerned and people tend to under estimated the standard of playing particularly in South Africa.

April 15, 2004 at 09:49 PM · Greetings,

I`m ashamed to say I don`t know of him. Why don`t you write to th Strad and ask them to do an article?



April 27, 2004 at 10:45 AM · I wrote an article about Philippe Graffin for The Strad, which you can find in the July 2003 edition. I have to say he's one of the most interesting violinists I've interviewed: this was the only occasion I've ever had to ring up the editor to ask for an extra page. I've been most impressed by his playing whenever I've heard him and have written about his summer festival in St Nazaire, France, on my music blog:

April 28, 2004 at 09:59 AM · Hey Jessica. I wish u could've heard him in Johannesburg and cape town. He sounded very unsure of himself. He played the Dvorak and it was suspect. I just wish in future if he comes here again, his well prepared because maybe South Africa was a testing gorund for him as far as that music was concerned. We want quality and maybe he's great in other places but africa shouldn';t be an excuse to play badly!!!!

April 28, 2004 at 10:36 AM · Hi Tia. Sorry to read it didn't go well. I know he adores going to South Africa and I can't believe he'd regard it as a testing ground. I had the impression he had a very busy, very tough year in 03 with a lot of new stuff to learn and he was probably just exhausted. Happens to everyone sometimes. Have you heard his recording with the Johannesburg Philharmonic of the Dvorak and the Coleridge-Taylor concertos? Just out on the Avie label.

July 9, 2010 at 11:55 PM ·

 Philippe Graffin is a fantastic violinist.  From his recordings he sounds like a young Phillippe Hirschhorn (who was incidentally his teacher).  Graffin is a first rate virtuoso!

July 10, 2010 at 12:33 AM ·

Maybe he is better on recording than in person?  I have not personally seen him perform but highly recommend his recording of the Saint-Saens violin concertos on Hyperion, hot hot stuff! J

July 10, 2010 at 05:29 AM ·

A few years ago I heard him live in the Netherlands, in a Mozart concerto. Sounded great.

July 11, 2010 at 03:59 AM ·

I met him and heard him many, many years ago. He was not a nice or interesting person and his playing was mediocre. I am surprised that he has any sort of career. He seems to be a very good self-promoter.

July 11, 2010 at 06:16 AM ·

It's disappointing to see how quick and easy some find it to trash another violinist's performance

and career in this case. It serves no purpose apart from making them look small.

Simon Fischer told me that if his students rubbish another's performance, he takes a pencil and breaks it in half in front of them and says, "See how easy it is to break that pencil, yet think of the

how much time, effort and work it took to manufacture that pencil from nothing."


July 11, 2010 at 07:23 AM ·

Roland - well spoken.

It is just so much total rubbish to say musicians don't care about good performances simply because of the country they are in.

Sounds more like the poster has an inferiority complex himself!!

July 11, 2010 at 07:46 PM ·

  >It's disappointing to see how quick and easy some find it to trash another violinist's performance and career in this case. It serves no purpose apart from making them look small.

I, too, am taken aback by the vitriol expressed. I always think of how it must feel to be the hard-working, lifelong professional violinist, taxed by the demands of touring and recording, only to get bashed here. (I'm sure as professionals, they've learned to shrug and say "whatever," but still...) Roland, your reply was very well put - thank you. 

I adore Phillipe Graffin's recording of Ysaye/Saint Saens Chopin violin transcriptions. Just incredible. I echo the others in saying thank goodness someone out there is taking on these kind of gems, because they've certainly enriched my music library. (Scott - oh, that Ballade no. 1 is just incredible! One of my all-time favorites.) Got his recording of Saint Saens sonatas, as well.

July 11, 2010 at 08:43 PM ·

Memory lapses can happen to anyone. Actors as well as musicians. Doesn't mean anything - apart from the fact that on this one occasion they "froze". Caertainly doesn't make anyone a bad player/actor

July 11, 2010 at 08:51 PM ·

just fyi... this is an old thread that someone has re-hashed

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