THE WHITE PEACOCK
This CD came out just in time for the 2002 National Flute Association convention in Washington, DC. This album includes three new compositions which the Harris-Coates Duo performed the 2001 NFA Convention in Dallas: Tre Divertimenti by Spanish composer and featured convention guest Salvador Brotons (who leapt to his feet in enthusiastic applause as they finished their performance,"You have given the best performance of all my pieces performed at this event!" he beamed, adding, "No one has performed this piece as well as you have just done - bravo to you both!"), Quatre Facettes by French composer Jean-Michel Damase and Serenade to Eve, After Rodin by American composer Daniel Dorff. This annual convention draws between 3,000 and 4,000 professional flutists from around the world and to be selected to perform a full recital program before this audience is a singular honor and accomplishment.
Other works on the CD include a new transcription of American composer Charles T. Griffes' The White Peacock. This piece, originally written for piano in 1915 and later scored by Griffes for full orchestra, was transcribed and arranged by Mike Coates for flute, guitar and bassoon -- this recording features guest artist Russell Peterson on bassoon.
1 Andrea Stern -- Mosaic
- 2-4 Salvador Brotons -- Tre Divertimenti, Op. 68
- Molto allegro
- 5 Charles T. Griffes -- The White Peacock
- with Russell Peterson, bassoon
6 Daniel Dorff -- Serenade to Eve, After Rodin
- 7-8 Joaquin Rodrigo -- Serenata al Alba del Dia
- Andante moderato
- 9-10 Claude Debussy
- Le Petit Berger
Le Petit Negre
11-14 Jean-Michel Damase -- Quatre Facettes
Allegro scherzando 2:17
ARTIST NOTES by Mike Coates
The White Peacock album title concept requires some explanation. Debora Harris and I have a good friend and colleague, Russell Peterson, who is a world-class saxophonist. (In 1995 he won the International Geneva Saxophone Concours in Switzerland and was also first place winner of the MTNA National Music Competition solo division that year.) Russ is an ambitious and highly energized young performer/composer/educator who has a number of impressive CD releases to his credit on both classical and jazz labels. My wife, Linda, and I think so much of his playing and artistry that we released one of his projects, American Breath, on our own label, Barking Dog Records. What many people don't know about Russ, however, is that he is also a very accomplished bassoonist, and for a number of years we have casually bantered about the idea of Russ appearing as a guest artist with the Harris-Coates Duo.
In preparing material for this album project, I was exploring the possibility of transcribing an off-the-beaten-path Impressionistic piece for the duo because it is generally an accepted notion that music from this style and period often works well for flute/guitar duos, yet many of the "standards" have been recorded countless times. I recalled a piece I encountered in my youth by the early American composer, Charles Griffes, who had strong Impressionistic inclinations. That piece was The White Peacock and having not heard it for many years I decided to give it a listen again, first in its original form, a tone poem of sorts for solo piano, and later as an orchestral piece arranged by Griffes himself. I was still utterly charmed by the piece and, after perusing both the piano and orchestral scores, I arrived at the idea of transcribing it for flute, bassoon, and guitar.
Transcription is a dicey business. However, to a classical guitarist it is a major part of his or her musical experience, like it or not. A limited repertoire is often the source of inspiration but, in fact, only certain instruments and ensembles lend themselves readily to the flute/guitar ensemble conversion-pieces for harp, harpsichord, or more delicate piano stylings are good examples of successful source material. While The White Peacock was a challenging piece to arrange, I felt it could be a fabulous showcase for an outstanding player like Russ. I am very pleased with the outcome and we are grateful to Russ for his considerable contribution.
During the many weeks of recording this project the concept of The White Peacock began to take on larger and more metaphorical aspects for me, especially after seeing some photographs, by famed photographer Sam Abell, of this extraordinary creature in a beautiful Italian garden setting. The idea of a very rare and exotic anomaly of nature emerging from its sumptuous surroundings reminded me a great deal of my performing partner, Deb Harris. She is indeed special to this community, and I'd like to think our duo is as well. And concerning our "garden," well, it may come as a shock to many people, but the Fargo-Moorhead border community in North Dakota and Minnesota is a wonderful environment for the arts in general, thanks in great part to the contributions of three local universities. But in brainstorming a literal "garden" scenario for our photo shoot, it occurred to me that very little of the wonderful, contemporary music we are featuring on this CD is actually pastoral in nature. In fact, in our opinion, these pieces are quite simply all unique gems of art. And then it hit me, what more perfect place for our "white peacock" metaphor than in the Rourke Museum here in Moorhead. Founder and director James O'Rourke has steadfastly championed the cause of visual artists in this region for decades, and we have performed in his spaces on many occasions. Thanks are in order, Jim, on many levels. And thanks are also in order to my wonderful wife and business partner, Linda, who always brings her boundless creativity to our every endeavor.