Gary Graffman belongs to that incredible flowering of great American virtuosos who burst onto the public scene in the 1940s and 50s. Graffman, together with Van Cliburn, the tragically short-lived William Kapell, Leon Fleischer, John Browning and Leonard Pennario, presented the public with new ways of interpreting the repertoire, a far cry from the elderly virtuosos who seemed to hark from the previous century.
Graffman was born in New York in 1928 to Russian Jewish émigrés. He studied with Rudolf Serkin and Vladimir Horowitz. During the 1960s he made a series of recordings that to this day are considered benchmarks. The remarkable Brahms 1st Concerto with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Munch cries out for re-release. The recordings of the three Tchaikovsky concertos, Prokofiev’s Concertos 1&3, and the Rachmaninov 2nd are in this category, along with the Chopin concerto on this CD.
Working with conductors such as George Szell, Leonard Bernstein and Charles Munch (here at his peak), Graffman’s genius sounds as startlingly fresh and vivid today as it did 50 years ago.
In 1977 Graffman, like his friend Leon Fleischer, began to suffer from recurring pains in his right hand and, after concentrating on repertoire for the left-hand, he turned to teaching. Two of his star pupils are Yuja Wang and Lang Lang.
“Authoritative performances, very lean and lyrically rather understated. At times refreshing and aristocratic, Gary Graffman can be a little unemotional.”
“I can't remember having heard Graffman in Chopin and I found I kept jotting down notes about how extraordinarily well he plays this concerto. Graffman produces some marvellous pianism and I was left full of
admiration for his playing. In the Mendelssohn he plays with great style and with the brilliance this agreeable, if not very remarkable, piece wants”
(Ballades and Op 22))
“Here the characteristic rhythms are propelled irresistibly.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.