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Friday, March 3, 2017

Ernest Chausson - Poème; Piano Trio; Andante & Allegro; Pièce (Philippe Graffin; Pascal Devoyon)


Composer: Ernest Chausson
  1. Poème for violin, string quartet & piano, Op. 25
  2. Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 3: I. Pas trop lent - Animé
  3. Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 3: II. Vite
  4. Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 3: III. Assez lent
  5. Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 3: IV. Animé
  6. Andante & Allegro for clarinet & piano: I. Andante
  7. Andante & Allegro for clarinet & piano: II. Allegro
  8. Pièce for cello & piano, Op. 39

Philippe Graffin, violin (1-5)
Pascal Devoyon, piano
Charles Neidich, clarinet (6, 7)
Gary Hoffman, cello (2-5)
Chilingirian Quartet (1)
Levon Chilingirian, violin
Charles Sewart, violin
Ásdís Valdimarsdottir, viola
Philip De Groote, cello

Date: 1998
Label: Hyperion



The opulent sound of this disc is ideal for Chausson; it especially suits the impassioned early Trio. Devoyon plays the demanding piano part in the grand style, yet the strings are never swamped. In particular, Philippe Graffin’s sensuous, unforced tone sails above the texture without any of the strenuous feeling we experience even in the Beaux Arts’ otherwise excellent, well-balanced performance. All three players sound completely at home, whether in the rhetorical gestures of the work’s big moments, or the poised delicacy of the second movement. This Trio, though an early work, is already fully characteristic of Chausson – the way the carefree, day-in-the-country atmosphere at the start of the finale is gradually overtaken by tragic portents very strongly shows his melancholic nature. The Andante et Allegro is less individual, but here, too, the performance rises to the occasion – and beyond. Neidich’s playing is quite remarkable for its breadth of expression in the Andante as well as for the extraordinarily brilliantly articulated Allegro. Hoffman and Devoyon are equally convincing in the beautiful, dreamy Piece for cello and piano.

The most novel aspect of the disc, paradoxically, concerns the most familiar music: this is the first recording of a newly rediscovered version of the Poeme, with string quartet and piano accompaniment. As a chamber work, the music’s essentially intimate tone is felt more strongly, and Graffin gives a plangent account of the solo part, with something of that sense of freedom that Ysaye, the work’s sponsor, would certainly have conveyed. The only trouble with the arrangement is the loss of perspective between the soloist and an ‘orchestra’ led by another solo violin. But the Chilingirian and Devoyon play the sustained ‘tutti’ music beautifully. I’d be surprised if next year’s Chausson centenary brings many issues of this quality.

-- Duncan Druce, Gramophone


Ernest Chausson (20 January 1855 – 10 June 1899) was a French romantic composer who died just as his career was beginning to flourish. He studied with Jules Massenet at the Paris Conservatoire, and  also with César Franck, with whom he formed a close friendship. Chausson left behind only 39 opus-numbered pieces.  The quality and originality of his compositions are consistently high, and several of his works continue to make occasional appearances on programs of leading singers, chamber music ensembles and orchestras.


Philippe Graffin (born 1964 in Romilly-sur-Seine, France) is a French violinist. Graffin was a student of the late Joseph Gingold and Philippe Hirschhorn and has established a particular reputation for his interpretations of his native repertoire as well for his interest in rare and contemporary works. He has made numerous landmark recordings for labels such as Hyperion, Avie, ASV and Onyx. Graffin plays a Domenico Busano violin, made in Venice, 1730. He is currently professor at the Paris Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique and guest professor at the Brussels Conservatoire Royal.


Pascal Devoyon (born 6 April 1953 in Paris) is a French pianist. He graduated from the Paris Conservatoire in 1971 with a first prize, studying with Leilia Gousseau. He made a good impression on audiences in competitions, winning silver at the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1978 (behind Mikhail Pletnev). Having established himself as a first-rate interpreter of French solo piano music, Pascal Devoyon has also become one of Europe's most esteemed chamber music players. Among his most frequent partners are cellist Steven Isserlis, violinists Dong-Suk Kang and Philippe Graffin.


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