Daugherty: Philadelphia Stories, UFO

Daugherty: Philadelphia Stories, UFO

by Marin Alsop
     
 

With works like Dead Elvis and Jackie O in his catalog, composer Michael Daugherty often seems to dare us to not take him seriously. But if cheerleading chants and Superman comics are where he finds his inspiration, who are we to judge -- especially when his music so often breathes fresh air into the concert hall. The two works on this disc,See more details below

Overview

With works like Dead Elvis and Jackie O in his catalog, composer Michael Daugherty often seems to dare us to not take him seriously. But if cheerleading chants and Superman comics are where he finds his inspiration, who are we to judge -- especially when his music so often breathes fresh air into the concert hall. The two works on this disc, Philadelphia Stories (2001) and UFO (1999), are less aggressively lowbrow than some of Daugherty's others. In the former, written for the Philadelphia Orchestra, the composer pays tribute to the musical and literary history of one America's great cities. An opening movement borrows from jazz, funk, and soul as it takes a tour of South Street, and it's followed by an homage to one-time Philadelphia resident Edgar Allan Poe -- his "Tell-Tale Heart" translated into a concertante "Tell-Tale Harp." In the finale, Daugherty evokes the sounds of the city's bells (starting with the Liberty Bell, naturally) alongside the plush style of conductor/arranger Leopold Stokowski. While it's a pity that the Philadelphia Orchestra hasn't recorded this work, the Colorado Symphony -- led by their former music director, Marin Alsop -- sounds fantastic on this disc. They're only upstaged, and intentionally so, by Evelyn Glennie, the soloist in Daugherty's concerto for percussion and orchestra, UFO. The title fits, since so many of the sounds Glennie produces are literally unidentifiable to the ear, creating a fascinating sense of mystery -- especially in the movement titled "???" -- in addition to the visceral excitement of the percussionist's dazzling performance. Daugherty has written a spectacular showpiece for Glennie and composed one of the most satisfying works of his own career in the process.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Blair Sanderson
Undoubtedly one of the most technically accomplished composers of the post-modernist generation, Michael Daugherty is famed for his suggestive tone painting, brilliant orchestration, and lively rhythms, and his works for orchestra are frequently provocative in their subject matter. Yet Daugherty's forays into popular culture sometimes stray too far into kitsch, and it can be difficult to take his music seriously when his associations become painfully obvious and his humor descends into camp. "UFO for solo percussion and orchestra" (1999) is the hardest piece on this disc to accept, filled as it is with obligatory alien sounds and allusions to science fiction soundtracks. If the cute program can be set aside, the music may be appreciated for its complexity and variety, and Evelyn Glennie's performance on a massive percussion battery is undeniably impressive. Even so, this meandering work lacks sonic depth and emotional resonance, and belabors its extraterrestrial subject far too long. Much better is "Philadelphia Stories" (2001), which is more oblique and subtle in its references to the city's landmarks and musical history, and its textures and timbres are sufficiently interesting as pure music. The Colorado Symphony Orchestra under Marin Alsop is fully engaged in these complex scores and engaging in their energetic playing, and Naxos provides excellent sound quality.
Gramophone - Barry Witherden
If 20th-century American music currently has a better friend than Naxos I can’t think who it is.... Here [Daugherty 's] subjects are Philadelphia, incorporating a homage to Stokowski, and UFOs, but the influences and allusions are considerably wider, from Bach to film noir and beyond.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/19/2004
Label:
Naxos American
UPC:
0636943916520
catalogNumber:
8559165
Rank:
302950

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Philadelphia Stories for orchestra  - Michael Daugherty  - Marin Alsop  -  Colorado Symphony Orchestra
  2. UFO, for percussion & symphonic band  - Michael Daugherty  - Evelyn Glennie  - Marin Alsop  -  Colorado Symphony Orchestra

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