Philippe Graffin’s individual style of playing and outstanding achievements have placed him among the finest of French violinists. A student of the late Joseph Gingold and Philipp Hirschhorn, Graffin’s interpretations of his native repertoire compelled Gramophone magazine to proclaim ”his understanding of the idiom is second to none,” while his charismatic and imaginative performances of the mainstream and contemporary repertoire have been praised throughout the world by audiences and reviewers alike.
Philippe’s ever-questing mind led him to rediscover original settings of classics such as Chausson’s Poème and Ravel’s Tzigane. He has also brought back to life the forgotten violin concertos of Fauré, Saint-Saëns and the English composers Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Frederick Cliffe, as well as championing rare sonatas such as the Bruno Walter, thereby expanding the repertoire.
Philippe has shared the stage with some of the greatest musicians of our time: Lord Menuhin, Rostropovich, Martha Argerich, Sergei Commisiona, Jean-Yves Thibaudet. Additionally he regularly partners the cellists Gary Hoffman, Truls Mork, pianists Pascal Devoyon, Stephen Kovacevich, Claire Désert, Olli Mustonen and the Chilingirian Quartet to name but a few.
As concerto soloist, he has performed all over Europe with orchestras such as the Royal Philharmonic, The Philharmonia, BBC Philharmonic, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Orchestre National de Lyon, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Hague’s Residentie Orkest, Gothenburg Symphony, Czech Philharmonic and the Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra. In 2005 he performed the Coleridge-Taylor Violin Concerto at the BBC Proms and in 2010 at the Three Choirs Festival he will play the Elgar Violin Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Norrington to mark the centenary of the work’s première
Philippe Graffin is the founder and artistic director of ”Consonances”, the international chamber music festival of St Nazaire, France and is invited regularly to appear at the major chamber music festivals across Europe and the United States. He has also appeared in the BBC Proms.
Contemporary music forms an essential part of Philippe’s interests. A number of composers have written for him. Most recently Rodion Shchedrin has written a concerto for Graffin, Concerto Parlando for violin, trumpet and strings of which he has given the first performances in France, Russia and the UK in a London performance with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Lithuanian composer Vytautas Barkauskas received the 2004 Lithuanian National Prize for Art for his violin concerto ”Jeux”, which he dedicated to Philippe. Graffin also premiered Barkauskas’s Duo Concertante for violin and viola with Nobuko Imai at the Vilnius Festival. David Matthews wrote his 2nd violin concerto for Philippe and Yves Prin, Vassili Lobanov and Philippe Hersant have written solo pieces for him. This year Philippe Hersant wrote Rhapsodie, a piece for violin and luthéal. Graffin gave the world première in September 09 in Saint-Nazaire.
Philippe has made numerous landmark recordings. For Hyperion his recordings include the Ysaÿe sonatas, the complete Chausson chamber music, the three Saint-Saëns violin concertos , a collection of rare French works for violin and orchestra and rare sonatas of Pierre de Breville and Joseph Canteloube for Hyperion. For Avie Records recordings include the world première recording of the Violin Concerto of Afro-English composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a recital disc of Debussy, Enesco & Ravel, Elgar’s Violin Concerto, coupled with Chausson’s Poème in original manuscript versions, shortlisted for the Gramophone awards and a double CD of Mozart duos and the Sinfonia Concertante with Nobuko Imai. He has also recorded Miklos Rosza’s Sinfonia Concertante with Raphael Wallfisch for ASV. Graffin’s most recent recordings include a virtuoso recital CD ‘Hungarian Dances’ on Onyx Classics and a highly successful recording of rare works for violin and orchestra of Frederick Delius for Dutton Vocalion. (Editor’s choice Classic FM Magazine, Nov.09). Forthcoming releases include the world première recording of Shchedrin’s Concerto Parlando and a Schumann CD, both on Onyx Classics.
Last season included returns to the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Lithuanian National Philharmonic, a tour to Taiwan with the Karl Weigl concerto and performances in the US of the Coleridge-Taylor Violin Concerto with the New Haven Symphony. Graffin gave the first performance in over 100 years of the Frederick Cliffe violin concerto at the English Music Festival, broadcast on BBC Radio 3, and in a concert at Wigmore Hall to mark the bicentenary of Charles Darwin he worked with the London Sinfonietta as both soloist and conductor. Recitals included concerts in Cambridge and London with pianist Claire Désert, concerts in Gstaad with Jeremy Menuhin and Turku with Olli Mustonen. He also gave performances at the Wigmore Hall and at the Sion Festival in Switzerland of his children’s story, The Hidden Fairy, with the actress Marie-Christine Barrault.
2009/10 includes his début in Italy with the Orchestra di Padova et del Veneto, a return to the Johannesburg Philharmonic to play the Beethoven violin concerto, concerts in Norway and Portugal as well as performances of the Elgar Violin Concerto in Leeds with the Orchestra of Opera North and at the Three Choirs Festival, a recital in London for the Enescu Society and at the Festival d’Alba in Italy. He will also make a recording for Hyperion’s Romantic Violin series with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. September 2010 will mark the 20th anniversary of his festival, Consonances de Saint-Nazaire.
Philippe Graffin plays a Domenico Busano violin, made in Venice, 1730. He is currently Artist in Residence at the University of New York at Stony Brook.