Griffes, C T - Complete Piano Works, Vol. 2 - Lewin, Michael (piano)

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Charles Tomlinson Griffes was born in Elmira, New York, in 1884, Gifted and determined to become a composer, at 19 he went to Germany to continue his piano studies and study musical composition with Engelbert Humperdinck. Upon his return to the States in 1907 he became music director at the Hackley School in Tarry town, New York, a private boys' school. He was now 23 years old, an accomplished musician, cultured, fluent in four languages and eager to throw himself into the creative fray of nearby New York City.

A mere thirteen years later, in 1920, the composer was dead at the age of only 35. He had just achieved renown following Pierre Monteux's successful performances of The Pleasure-Dome of Kubla Khan with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. During this short life, Griffes created a significant and beautiful body of music while undergoing remarkable stylistic evolutions. His early death represents a particularly tragic loss since we can only speculate as to the musical paths that he would have explored.

The music that Griffes wrote in Europe as a student and young man was greatly influenced by the German Romantics. There are a pair of noteworthy two-piano works from this period, both of which are receiving their first recorded performances on this disc. The first is an arrangement of Humperdinck's Hansel und Gretel Overture, for which he rightly earned his teacher's approval. Literal and effective, it is skillfully done and displays keen pianistic and coloristic awareness. The other piece is quite wonderful and deserving of regular inclusion in the concert repertoire for two pianos. Entitled Symphonische Phantasie, it was written around 1910 as an arrangement of his own original orchestral work. The Symphonische Phantasie is an ultra-romantic vehicle reminiscent of Wagner, with gorgeous tunes, big rich chords and a direct and fulfilling emotionalism.

Griffes met much of the cultural avant-garde in New York and heard new scores by composers such as Debussy, Ravel, Scriabin, Stravinsky, Busoni, Schoenberg, Milhaud, Prokofiev and Varese. He was also aware of fellow American composers including Omstein, Loeffler, and Farwell. He had significant performances by prominent pianists, singers, string quartets, and received orchestral premieres by the New York Symphony Orchestra under Damrosch, the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Monteux and the Philadelphia Orchestra under Stokowski. His music was greeted with encouragement from musicians, critics, and audiences, and he was becoming established as one of the most important American composers of his generation.

Though often referred to as 'the American Impressionist', this description of Griffes is only partially accurate. Vividly aware of modem cultural trends, his own works absorbed and reflected that awareness. Impressionism was just one such influence. In his best compositions his own unique talents and sensibilities shine forth; the music is original.

Artikelnummer 8559046
Streckkod 0636943904626
Utgivningsdatum 2005-04-16
Kategori Piano
Skivbolag Naxos
Enhet CD
Antal enheter 1
Artister Lewin, Michael (piano)
Kompositörer Griffes, C T
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