Friday, May 13, 2011

Griffes, America's might-have-been

The untimely death (from pneumonia) at age 35 of Charles Griffes (1884-1920) robbed the American music scene of one of its brightest talents, long before he had made the impact he might have had. His limited oeuvre is mainly rooted in French and Russian style impressionism. Probably best-known is his tone poem The pleasure dome of Kubla Khan. This Naxos disc of course includes this masterpiece, as well as other tone poems (The white peacock, and Poem for flute and orchestra), the short song cycle Three Poems of Fiona McLeod, and some less well-known but interesting short works. The Buffalo Philharmonic may not have the reputation yet of a world class orchestra, but they play these works with conviction and finesse, under the direction of Jo Ann Falletta. Recommended for those interested in exploring this underexposed composer.