Fiddler’s Blues | Avie AV2399

Fiddler’s Blues

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Label: Avie

Cat No: AV2399

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Release Date: 1st February 2019



Philippe Graffin (violin)
Claire Desert (piano)


Philippe Graffin (violin)
Claire Desert (piano)


The world-premiere recording of Eugčne Ysa˙e’s “Posthumous” solo violin sonata opens the album Fiddler’s Blues, the latest collaboration between violinist Philippe Graffin and pianist Claire Désert. What follows is an ingenious intersection of works by Paris-based violinists, composers and friends – Debussy, Enescu and Ravel.

Philippe Graffin’s virtuosity combined with his skills as a sleuth have led to the world-premiere recording of a “Posthumous” solo violin sonata by Eugčne Ysa˙e, an astonishing discovery that extends the Belgian composer’s canon of his essential six sonatas for the medium. Philippe unearthed the nearly-completed manuscript in the library of the Brussels Conservatoire, and polished off the final movement in the most Ysa˙e-esque manner possible. Philippe’s pechant for intuitive programming is brought to bear on Fiddler’s Blues, combining two Ysa˙e works – including another premiere, the Petite Fantaisie romantique – with a pair of folksy, Bohemian-flavoured works by George Enescu, another virtuoso violinist/composer who emigrated from his native Romania and like Ysa˙e settled in Paris.

Enescu was a classmate of Maurice Ravel whose Berceuse sur le nom de Gabriel Fauré is an affectionate nod to their teacher at the Paris Conservatoire, whilst his azure-tinged Violin Sonata influences the album’s title. Ravel’s slightly older contemporary Claude Debussy befriended Ysa˙e. Whereas Ysa˙e soared writing works for solo violin, Debussy wrote none. Suggesting how such a work may have sounded, Philippe contributes his own arrangement for solo violin, made together with David Matthews, of Debussy’s enduring piano piece Clair de lune.

“The ten playful miniatures that make up Enescu’s Op. 28, and Ravel’s early Sonata, are impeccably shaped by Graffin and Désert, making this a disc for those who value exquisite refinement above all.” – BBC Music Magazine (on In the Shade of Forests, AV2059)

”Graffin plays with such vibrant character and imagina on, and the whole venture radiates such a life-affirming spontaneity and joy in music-making” – Gramophone (on the world-premiere recording of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Violin Concerto, AV0044)


The big story here is the first recording of a previously undiscovered seventh unaccompanied violin sonata by Eugčne Ysa˙e. ... Played with flourishing panache and easy command, it makes an electrifying opening to this deceptively titled recital: essentially a survey of the early 20th-century Parisian scene. [Philippe] Graffin and the pianist Claire Désert approach Enescu’s mighty Third Sonata from an unashamedly Gallic perspective. ... There’s a real feeling of dialogue; Désert is delicate but never precious, and the shorter pieces share the general mood of passion tempered by refinement.  Richard Bratby
Gramophone April 2019

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