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 Post subject: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 9:07 pm 
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Recorded this morning --This is the only Griffes piece I have ever heard or played. The title intrigued me and the music is so very lush and dreamy; I think it really can put one into a trance at the end. It's not that easy to play though, and I've practiced it a lot so I hope it's okay.

Regarding the music, it's from a set that Griffes wrote called "Roman Sketches". Since I was recently in Rome, I probably should look at the other pieces in this set, but I doubt I have the time. Also, I never saw an actual white peacock, either. Oh well... this particular piece is based on a book of poetry by William Sharp called, "Sospiri di Roma", which means "sighs of Rome". Isn't that nice? The poem itself is rather long; I've copied and pasted it below for anyone interested. Also a pretty picture of a white peacock.

Griffes - Roman Sketches, Op. 7, No. 1 "The White Peacock"


THE WHITE PEACOCK - by William Sharp, from "Sospiri di Roma"

Here where the sunlight
Floodeth the garden,
Where the pomegranate
Reareth its glory
Of gorgeous blossom;
Where the oleanders
Dream through the noontides
And, like surf o' the sea
Round cliffs of basalt,
The thick magnolias
In billowy masses
Front the sombre green of the ilexes
Here where the heat lies
Pale blue in the hollows,
Where blue are the shadows
On the fronds of the cactus,
Where pale blue the gleaming
Of fir and cypress,
With the cones upon them
Amber or glowing
With virgin gold:
Here where the honey-flower
Makes the heat fragrant,
As though from the gardens
Of Gulistan,
Where the bulbul singeth
Through a mist of roses
A breath were borne:
Here where the dream-flowers,
The cream-white poppies
Silently waver,
And where the Scirocco,
Faint in the hollows,
Foldeth his soft white wings in the sunlight,
And lieth sleeping
Deep in the heart of
A sea of white violets
Here, as the breath, as the soul of this beauty
Moveth in silence, and dreamlike, and slowly,
White as a snow-drift in mountain-valleys
When softly upon it the gold light lingers
White as the foam o' the sea that is driven
O'er billows of azure agleam with sun-yellow:
Cream-white and soft as the breasts of a girl,
Moves the White Peacock, as though through the noontide
A dream of the moonlight were real for a moment.
Dim on the beautiful fan that he spreadeth,
Foldeth and spreadeth abroad in the sunlight,
Dim on the cream-white are blue adumbrations,
Shadows so pale in their delicate blueness
That visions they seem as of vanishing violets,
The fragrant white violets veined with azure,
Pale, pale as the breath of blue smoke in far woodlands.
Here, as the breath, as the soul of this beauty,
White as a cloud through the heats of the noontide
Moves the White Peacock.


Attachments:
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 Post subject: Re: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 11:55 pm 
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Monica, I think you did a very fine job with this work, the quintessence of American musical Impressionism. Throughout it had a proper etherealness to it.

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 Post subject: Re: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:39 am 
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musical-md wrote:
Monica, I think you did a very fine job with this work, the quintessence of American musical Impressionism. Throughout it had a proper etherealness to it.

Thank you, Eddy. Etherealness...I like that, it's a good word for this piece.

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 Post subject: Re: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:58 am 
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Monica,
I had a listen to the piece. I have never heard of it before. In fact, the only other introduction I've had to griffes is the Pleasure Dome of Kubla Kan (sp?) Chris recorded. It is very lush indeed, and I think your practicing has paid off. That this piece is based on a poem I find interesting. Debussy, of course, wrote was is perhaps his most famous piece "clair de lune" based on a poem by Verlaine. Though critiquing"Peacock," solely from composition perspective, I must say this piece's form seems not very well defined. It could just be the chords are so very complex. Maybe this piece has more appeal not on the first, but instead quite a few listens. Enjoyed this and though its still early to say it, Happy New Year!

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 Post subject: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 10:51 am 
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Thank you, Riley. You are right about the chords being very complex. Many of them are five-finger chords, something you don't see everydya.
Hqppy New Year early to you too! Do they celebrate New Years there like we do here? Maybe they shoot off more fireworks...? ddin't the Chinese invent fireworks?

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 Post subject: Re: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:05 am 
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Very good playing, especially as there seem to be quite some wide stretches here.

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 Post subject: Re: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:52 pm 
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techneut wrote:
Very good playing, especially as there seem to be quite some wide stretches here.

Thank you. Yes, there are many wide stretches and chords with 9ths or 10ths on the ends. I had to eliminate a couple bottom notes here and there. Griffes must have had large hands or he wasn't great at writing pianistically (word?) because there are also a couple awkward spots in this piece.

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 Post subject: Re: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 6:15 am 
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Hi Monica,

I enjoyed your recording of "The White Peacock"! Very nicely played. There is also an orchestral version of this piece which in its day was often heard. You had good courage, as the piano piece is difficult to play well.

Griffes died a young man at 36. I recall reading years ago that he used to work at his day job, then when he returned home, he'd burn the midnight oil composing. It was thought at the time that he died of overwork.

I've only played his "Lake at Evening" from the Tone Pictures. Maybe I should relearn that piece and record it. Griffes isn't exactly over-represented here.

Again, fine playing, Monica.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 5:28 pm 
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Thank you, David. I don't really know much about Griffes but just read his bio on our main site. Poor man, another one dying in his 30's. What a shame and all too common among composers from the past like Chopin, Gershwin, Mozart, Schubert....(probably others but I can't think of the right now).

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 Post subject: Re: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 11:44 pm 
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Very good. This is the only piece by Griffes that I had heard before, and you play it better than the other times I heard it. Very "professional-sounding" recording, too - congratulations.

Griffes is buried near my home, but I won't visit the grave - I'm too afraid of composers' ghosts after your comments earlier this year. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 3:39 am 
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Very sensuous and evocative playing! Thanks for sharing. Griffes' brand of impressionism seems mid-way between Debussy and Ravel's.


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 Post subject: Re: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 3:09 pm 
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Thank you guys! It's not often that I get no negative comments, so this is a nice way to start the new year!

StuKautsch wrote:
Griffes is buried near my home, but I won't visit the grave - I'm too afraid of composers' ghosts after your comments earlier this year. :lol:

Funny! :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 4:02 pm 
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This is very good indeed! I like your pedal usage: it contributes significantly to the ethereal (Eddy chose the best adjective and I'm not finding an inferior synonym!) feel of the music. A recording to be proud of, imo.


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 Post subject: Re: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:43 pm 
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andrew wrote:
This is very good indeed! I like your pedal usage: it contributes significantly to the ethereal (Eddy chose the best adjective and I'm not finding an inferior synonym!) feel of the music. A recording to be proud of, imo.

Thank you, Andrew! :D
Wow...I feel a little weird with all these nice words. :) And to think that I almost put this piece away a couple weeks ago because I was getting tired of practicing it....

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 Post subject: Re: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 11:33 pm 
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What can I say after all has been said?

A very enjoyable performance of a very enjoyable piece; the recording leaves norhing to desire and the sound of the paino is also very superior. The name Griffes was familiar to me, but I must say I had never heard anything by him, at least no piano pieces, so this made a very good introduction. I listened to it twice yesterday and look forward to listening to it again. I hope the other pieces in the Roman Sketchbook are of the same quality, so that you may reocord some of them too.

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 Post subject: Re: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 4:44 pm 
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Thank you, Richard.
I don't know the other pieces in the set. I've got them, but haven't had time to read through them yet. I'm betting they will be hard, though, like this one.

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 Post subject: Re: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:58 am 
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@ Monica

Quote:
I think it really can put one into a trance at the end.


I had a listen to your performance again last night and YES, the end really did put me into a trance! If I am correct the last notes are a F#- C - F# (a tritone) what a spellbinding ending, indeed! Interesting how the Tritone is the only interval that is the same backwards and forwards (when threaded between an octave).

By listening back I realized again just how complex and challenging this piece is, really challenging and really complex :lol:

Again, nice job! :)

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 Post subject: Re: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 4:07 pm 
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Thank you again, Riley. You are right, it is a really challenging and really complex piece. :) I also like pieces that put you in a trance-like state.
Almost every one of the Musica Callada pieces are doing that to me as I work on them. I should be sleep-walking by now...haha.

I know we here know this already, but I just heard/read a couple reports lately about how music soothes peoples' nerves. I know...Duh! But also I think it said that people who listen to classical music live longer.

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 Post subject: Re: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:57 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
... pieces that put you in a trance-like state...
Music doesn't only affect people. I have this library book out at the moment, a treatise on harpsichord tuning by the 17th century Frenchman Jean Denis, instrument builder. In the midst of his technical ramblings there appear a couple of anecdotes demonstrating the power of music, specifically when it is consonant and harmonious. One story is about a white peacock, and I suddenly remembered this White Peacock, so I thought I would come back here and relate the story.

Denis writes this allegedly true story which a lute builder friend of his had told him. A potential customer had asked to borrow a lute he had seen in his shop, and also invited him to his country mansion for the weekend, asking him to bring an expert lute player along, so that the instrument could be demonstrated to the assembled company.

So they duly arrive on Saturday afternoon and are well received, etc. On the Sunday morning, the lute player rises early and goes for a walk in the garden. He hears a mass being sung in the church and attends it. When he comes out, he finds himself without anyone to talk to because everyone else has gone to the later mass. To pass the time he gets his lute and plucks idly away at it while still strolling in the grounds. Suddenly he becomes aware of a white peacock walking along next to him, apparently enjoying the music, and following him around wherever he went, until he stopped when the others got back from church. Over lunch he told them what had happened, but they thought he had just fabricated the story.

He wanted to prove to them that it was true, so after lunch out they all went, but the peacock was nowhere to be seen. Laughingly the doubters said to the player that he should just start to play, and if what he said was true, the peacock would soon show itself. So he played, and sure enough the peacock appeared and did everything he said it would, much to everyone's astonishment.

But this is only half the story. What follows demonstrates not just the peacock's taking pleasure in the sound of the lute, but also in its consonances and harmonies, i.e. it needs not just to be played, but played well.

Later, a servant decides to have a bit of fun with the peacock, grabs the lute and plays it, and soon the peacock comes and follows him around. Alas, the servant can't really play very well at all, and soon the peacock realises that the servant's playing is worthless, unharmonious, and discordant. It attacks the servant with talons, beak, and wings, and in terror the servant drops the lute and runs away to the house to tell everyone what had happened. They all come out and see the peacock still attacking the lute, trying to smash it to pieces, unfortunately with some success.

In a footnote, the translator remarks that it would seem the moral of the story is that peacocks ought to be brought along to concerts and recitals.


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 Post subject: Re: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:16 pm 
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OMG, I just burst out laughing and now all co-workers are looking at me..
This is so Funny!! If only there was a video!!!!! :lol: :lol: :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 9:13 pm 
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Hi Monica,

Your playing was really good. I think, if you were to shade things dynamically a little more,
it would be out of this world playing.

Kaila

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 Post subject: Re: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:42 am 
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Thank you, Kaila.
I think my recorder stifles some of my dynamics, but I'm sure I can always do better. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2013 7:50 am 
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Sorry to weigh in so late, Monica, but what I just heard is exquisite.

I have known about this piece since I started piano. It always showed up in a series of books from the 40s and 50s -- considered "intermediate" -- blah blah blah blah. I could never get my head around it then (well, I was 12 or 13). So you performance is the first that I have heard and it is gorgeous.

Though I have never seen a white peacock, during my 22 years in Texas I have seen plenty of peacocks. The owners of the mobile home park in which my parents lived had peacocks (which I tried to chase an wrangle a few times -- they are fast on their feet). Also there was a Mexican resturant between San Juan and Alamo, TX that had a court yard with peacocks (and peahens) that you could watch as you dine. They are marvelous birds. They do not fly well but they do strut their stuff. Most of the time their tail simply lays behind them, but when they see something that turns them on, it will come up and it is a great sight. This music, and your performance was so evocative of that. I heard them strutting and then the tails unfolding. So thank you.

Scott


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 Post subject: Re: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2013 9:34 am 
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Thank you, Scott. :)
I never knew about this piece until just recently. And I've never seen a white peacock either. I used to go to the Brookfield zoo often when I was a kid, and there were always a couple 'regular' peacocks walking around this one fountain/park area. They were so pretty....

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 Post subject: Re: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 1:41 pm 
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Great playing and interesting piece! A peacock is beautiful but sounds quite ugly, You capture the former!

I had no problem visualising a strutting peacock most of the time, you play with great conviction. I had a look at the music at imslp and this is far from simple, not only to get the notes right but to shape it into something convincing. This must have taken not only lots of practice but also lots of thought.

After adding to the deserved praise expressed by others, since you say you feel weird in the absence of constructive criticism: At the ff passage into 3 mins I kind of lost the peacock. It is beautiful and evocative but a bit too architectural - I don't know how to put it properly. Perhaps that part could go a little bit faster (though I realise that is quite hard). Anyway, this may be a matter of taste. Congrats on a fine achievement!


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 Post subject: Re: Charles Griffes - "The White Peacock"
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:10 pm 
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Hi Joachim. This piece is pretty tricky in spots --I probably did lose the peacock a couple times. But thank you, I'll make a note of what you said in my score. :)

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