The American composer Charles Tomlinson Griffes’s piano works represent a remarkable musical achievement. Griffes was active as a composer for little more than twelve years, and did not write prolifically, but nevertheless produced pieces of great maturity which are both concise and extraordinarily powerful, showing the contemporary European influences to which he was exposed but also demonstrating a highly individual compositional voice. His Roman Sketches Op 7 contains his most famous work, ‘The White Peacock’—an acknowledged Impressionist masterpiece—while the final movement, ‘Clouds’, clearly heralds the language of modernism.
Almost all of Griffes’s piano music is present here, and the composer has never been better served on record than by his compatriot Garrick Ohlsson, who here applies the full force of his interpretive and technical prowess.
“Ohlsson's performances throughout are a judicious blend of absolute technical security and fantasy, giving especially appealing treatment to the simple melodies that emerge occasionally from Griffes's teeming textures...this disc makes a compelling case for a masterly figure in American musical history.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2013 *****
“I was only a few seconds into listening to this CD...when I realised it was going to be very special indeed. Hyperion's immaculate piano sound helps, too. But Ohlsson's phrasing is perfect: no exaggeration, simply rapturous harmonic textures projecting elegant melodies...Griffes can never have sounded better.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2013
“Hugely commanding and authoritative; a landmark in every way.” MusicWeb International, 15th May 2013
“There are pieces here that combine the impressionism of Debussy and Ravel with the obsessive thematic working of Scriabin; others, a bit later, that suggest the primitivism of Stravinsky and Prokofiev...as Garrick Ohlsson's superb performances show, Griffes's piano writing is wonderfully fluent” The Guardian, 25th April 2013 ****