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American Classics - Charles Griffes
“Buffalo has preposterously harsh winters, but it is worth braving blizzards to hear its fine orchestra. Falletta and the Buffalonians pour an ample portion of polished Griffes's score” International Record Review
“Griffes represents the high point of American post-Romanticism. From his European training he inherited both the German and French traditions of Strauss and Debussy, fused them into something rich and strange, and in his later years became involved with Scriabin and oriental music. Much of his music has been regularly available on record, but this all-Griffes CD now makes the best showing for his hyper-sensitive responses to both literature and landscape.
Many of the works here are piano pieces fastidiously scored, with significant additions. TheWhite Peacock, just possibly a cousin of Stravinsky's firebird, is the first of the Roman Sketches for piano, all prefaced with stanzas by Fiona McLeod (a nom-de-plume for William Sharp): the impressionistic Clouds is the last of these.
The orchestral opulence of the Three Poems ofFiona McLeod, steeped in baleful Celtic twilights, makes the piano version seem anaemic; they're compellingly sung here by Barbara Quintiliani.
In the Three Tone-Pictures every picturesque detail of harmonically qualified melody is subtly imagined. The same applies to the Poem for flute and orchestra, where the continuity has the instinctive flow of Delius, beautifully realised by Carol Wincenc. The Pleasure-Dome of KublaKhan, the most extended work in this anthology, is an ecstatic response to Coleridge's opium- saturated masterpiece.
Conductor JoAnn Faletta is completely sympathetic throughout, and there are neatly delivered solos from many of the Buffalo players. This is a revelatory Griffes release, decently recorded with a wide dynamic range: strongly recommended.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
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Charles Tomlinson Griffes: The Pleasure Dome of Kubla Khan
and other vocal works
The death of Charles Griffes at the tender age of 35 deprived American music of an original, questing voice. His small but rich legacy includes several works of great distinction. Though he was trained in Germany, Griffes drew a great deal of inspiration from the French Impressionists and his more well known works evince this influence. One, the lush tone poem The Pleasure Dome of Kubla Khan, brought him his greatest acclaim. That work, along with two others in the same coloristic, pictorial vein, Three Poems of Fiona MacLeod and Three Tone Pictures, form the backbone of this indispensable collection.
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