À la valse - CD album and film by Lars Konings

Enescu Octet, Ravel La Valse and Debussy La plus que lente

Read more about the project: DOWNLOAD THE CD BOOKLET

Watch the filmed performances of Enescu's Octet for strings, Ravel's La Valse and Debussy's La plus que lente:

Watch Discovering À la valse - a short documentary about the pieces:

So, try and make me eight bars that we can play without accompaniment.

This oft-repeated phrase summarised the teaching philosophy of Andre Geldage, Ravel and Enesco’s counterpoint teacher at the conservatoire, to whom Enesco’s Octet for Strings (1900) is dedicated.

It seems as if, writing the opening phrase of this piece, the student satisfies the wish of his teacher and invokes the sum of all western music in a quasi-manifesto – announcing the coming of the 20th century, while at the same time celebrating the eternal world of his childhood in the village of Liveni, in Rumanian Moldavia.

I have loved this Octet for a long time and this project is a dream-come-true.

I want to express here my immense gratitude to all my colleagues for joining me in this adventure during these challenging times.

Just like two paintings at an exhibition somehow interacting in the space between them, I have long dreamed to echo Enescu’s last movement – a waltz – with Ravel’s La Valse. I am indebted to Tim Mulleman for having made this piece possible for us, string players.

In December 1910, after having written La plus que lente during the summer, Debussy traveled to Vienna and Budapest. His letters from that period make it obvious that he was under the great artistic impression of the Hungarian gypsy violinist Bela Radicz’s playing.

Hearing Radicz, the place where we are disappears... (December 19th, 1910)

...among the wishes that I might be given for the year 1911, [that of] returning to Budapest... simply to hear Radicz there until death. (December 31st, 1910)

He is a man who loves music a lot better than most of us, and gives you, in the banal decor of a coffee room, the illusion of being seated in the shade of the forests. (January 8th, 1911)

These words bring to mind Yehudi Menuhin, to whom this recording is dedicated „in memoriam”, and who some seventeen years later went on a journey across Europe to join his teacher George Enesco in Romania:

...When Enesco left Paris for Rumania in late summer 1927 there were no second thoughts about our joining him. So began my lifetime journey to the east and to the Past, for this was to prove less a lateral voyage then a vertical one, less a voyage in space than in time... the nearer we drew to the regions that had formed my mother and Georges Enesco, the more profoundly I entered myself. (Yehudi Menuhin, An unfinished journey)

It is to the shade of these forests that we invite you with these waltzes and the present recording.

Philippe Graffin


Philippe Graffin, Maria Włoszczowska, Kaja Nowak, Natalia Kotarba - violin
Vladimir Perčević, Diede Verpœst – viola
Amy Norrington, Julia Kotarba – cello
Uxía Martinez Botana – double bass
Renata Kambarova – flute
Panagiota Giannaka – clarinet
Lana Suran – piano
Cyril Dupuy – cimbalom

Sound engineer: Aude Pétiard
Camera: Lars Konings
Recorded in Arsonic, Mons in September 2020