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Philippe Graffin - Clara & Robert Schumann

Fanfare (USA)

First-class all the way." –Steven E. Ritter

American Record Guide

'...it is deeply moving to hear a fine violinist like Philippe Graffin throw his heart and soul into something that was once reserved for cellists' 

The Strad October 2010

'...Retaining the character of the cello concerto, Graffin liberally applies vibrato to impact warmth and sonority of the original. His playing is technically immaculate, and tempos are ideally chosen...The discs most extensive score is the second of the two violin sonats written in quick succession in 1851. graffin is joined very much on equal terms by the outstanding Claire Desert. Their mix of ardent and dreamily expressive passages is aided by a very wide dynamic range subdivided into many subtle colours. I found this one of the most desirable versions on disc.The sound quality is excellent, with the balance between violin and orchestra perfectly judged.

David Denton

BBC Music Magazine November 2010
Performance**** Sound ****

Schumann never heard his own cello concert - cello virtuosos were a much rarer breed in his time than now - so his arrangement for violin may have been something of a desperate remedy. Most of it works well enough, especially if you don't know the original, and there are one or two gains. The violin-cello dialogues in the slow movement take on a feminine-masculine quality where the cello version sounded entirely male.

Violinist Philippe Graffin makes a very appealing case for it...

...Clara Schumann's Three Romances are much more than salon sweatmeats and Graffin and Claire Desert play them elegantly and with feeling.

And Robert's own second sonata is played with a fine blend of strength and fragility.

So, if Graffin feels like recording the genuine Schumann violin concerto some day...

Stephen Johnson  

The Daily Mail 22.08.2010

Philippe Graffin's new ONYX CD contains a true rarity; Schumann's own arrangement for violin, prepared for Joseph Joachim, of the delightful cello concerto. This CD has a very sophisticated programme, containing as it does the best of Schumann's violin sonatas, No2. There are also three pieces by Schumann's wife, Clara....'

David Mellor

Gramophone September 2010

Another rarity comes on Philippe Graffin's ONYX disc, which couples the Second Violin Sonata with a violin arrangement of the Cello Concerto made by Schumann for Joachim. Once again this is an odd 'hybrid' concerto, the violin rarely being allowed to rise into the singing upper reaches of its range in a work that seems to be beloved of cellists but barely anybody else. Graffin brings a Gallic sweetness to the sonata.

David Threasher

Financial Times 10.07.2010 ****

Fine as Gringolts is (ONYX4053), Graffin's performance of the second sonata accompanied by Claire Desert, finds subtler colours and contrasts in the music while also coming across as more highly charged: very engaging. I also prefer Graffin's programme. Having given us the one masterpiece among the three sonatas, he champions the arrangement of the Cello Concerto that Schumann made for his violinist friend Joseph Joachim. I approached this with suspicion but was won over.Not only does the music retain its character in the voice of the violin, but the result sounds more convincing than the concerto Schumann wrote expressly for the violin. Excellent accompaniment from the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrucken under Christoph Poppen, and a sweet-tasting filler in the shape of Clara Schumann's three Romances for violin and piano.

Andrew Clark

The Lebrecht Report 22.06.2010 ***
La Scena Musicale

Philippe Graffin conjours a huge sound from a 1760 Domenico Busano violin , made in Venice, almost big enough to suggest the cello for which this score was intended. Almost , but not quite. Just as you are getting seduced by Graffin's conviction, a smoky reminiscence of real cello sound reduces his efforts to ersatz imitation. The redeeming fillers are the lively D minor violin sonata, op.121, and the three romances of Clara Schumann for violin and piano, taulty accompanied by Claire Desert.

Norman Lebrecht