The Pleasure-Dome of Kubla Khan

Music for time's ending

[Article first published as Music Review: Solungga Fang-Tzu Liu – The Pleasure Dome of Kubla Khan: Piano Works on Blogcritics.]

Perhaps my readers will not be too familiar with enigmatic classical composer Charles Tomlinson Griffes (1884-1920). This comes as no surprise, because though Griffes was a brilliant Impressionist composer with a unique musical language, he only composed a handful of pieces during his short life. He could count among his influences French Impressionism, contemporary European music with its bitonality and tonal ambiguity, and Asian music, a compositional influence that was relatively new at the time. His music is therefore a dynamic and distinct blend of these influences: one hears something of Scriabin and Debussy in music such as the set Three Tone Pictures (1910-1912) or the simply titled Sonata (1917-1919), tied with this undercurrent of Oriental exoticism that makes his work so unique.

It is precisely this composer whom Taiwan-born…

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