Tales of Hemingway now available on CD from Naxos

Michael Daugherty: Tales of Hemingway, American Gothic & Once upon a Castle (Live)

COMPOSER(S): Daugherty, Michael
ARTIST(S): Nashville Symphony Orchestra; Guerrero, Giancarlo; Bailey, Zuill; Jacobs, Paul
ITEM#: 8559798
BARCODE: 636943979822

RELEASE DATE: 2016-Sep-09

GRAMMY® Award-winning composer Michael Daugherty creates colorful musical portraits in this recording, featuring larger-than-life personalities drawn from 20th-century American culture. Tales of Hemingway is a dramatic cello concerto, evoking the turbulent life, adventures and literature of author Ernest Hemingway. American Gothic is a dynamic concerto for orchestra, reflecting on the creative world of Iowa artist Grant Wood. Once Upon a Castle is a virtuosic sinfonia concertante for organ and orchestra, inspired by the rich history of the Hearst Castle, built lhigh upon the California Pacific coast by billionaire Randolph Hearst, the subject of Orson Welles’ film Citizen Kane. Under the baton of Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero, the GRAMMY® Award-winning Nashville Symphony is joined by Zuill bailey, one of the leading cellists of his generation, and GRAMMY® Award-winning organist Paul Jacobs.

Daugherty: Mount Rushmore CD Review

This review is from: Daugherty: Mount Rushmore (Audio CD) 
November 8, 2013

Michael Daugherty's "Mt. Rushmore" melts the stony face of history, not only celebrating the public accomplishments of America's four most iconic presidents, but equally honoring their deep, private struggles as men torn between conflicts of personal passion and public duty. Daugherty's concern for our leaders as both men and statesmen is evident in his well-chosen, carefully researched selection of historical texts, setting to music a contrast of war anthems and personal letters, public declarations and love songs, dedicatory speeches and hymns of faith, to end with the most poetically moving speech of United States oratorical history in Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Hearing these texts in a musical setting of massed chorus and full orchestra fulfills Lincoln's wish for "the people" to recognize the "unfinished work" still before us. A limitation of the cd is that it cannot capture the audience inclusion in public performance, which for this work to achieve its full significance is paramount.

In addition to its title piece, "Mt. Rushmore" includes a stormy orchestral tribute to Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini, dramatically set against Shakespeare's "The Tempest," and a brilliantly performed organ concerto that satirizes one of the first American mass media religious celebrities of the 1930's, Sister Aimee McPherson. As I consider the "Mt. Rushmore" cd as a whole within the development of Michael Daugherty's work, I recognize a composer pursuing in music what Sandburg and Whitman sought in verse, which is the full voice of America singing, to include aesthetics of the high and low, or as expressed in Whitman's song, "stuffed with the stuff that is coarse and stuffed with the stuff that is fine." How else can we encompass Daugherty's cultural range from Elvis, Liberace, Superman, and the Detroit metal works; to Abraham Lincoln, the Trail of Tears, the Mississippi River, the Cuban Bay of Pigs crisis, American Gothic artist Grant Wood, and architect Frank Lloyd Wright? Daugherty's accomplishments in music must be understood as a piece, as an identifying national song, transhistorical and of an open aesthetic. That his work is deeply moving and accessible to both the schooled and non-musically schooled audience is a tribute to Michael Daugherty's care for music at its finest, as sounds first and foremost "for the people."

American Pop" and "Mount Rushmore"

Classical CD Reviews

Two new Naxos releases offer a comprehensive survey of the vision and talent of this American original.

Published on June 21, 2013

“American Pop – The Music of Michael Daugherty” = MICHAEL DAUGHERTY: Philadelphia Stories; UFO (Naxos 8.559165) – Route 66; Ghost Ranch; Sunset Strip; Time Machine – (Naxos 8.559613) – Metropolis Symphony; Deus ex Machina – (Naxos 8.559635) – Evelyn Glennie, percussion/Colorado Sym. /Bournemouth Sym. /Marin Alsop /Terrence Wilson, piano/Nashville Sym. /Giancarlo Guerrero – Naxos Records 8.503267, 209:22 (3-CD box set) (4/30/13) ****:

MICHAEL DAUGHERTY, “Mount Rushmore” = Mount Rushmore; Radio City: Symphonic Fantasy; The Gospel According to Sister Aimee – Paul Jacobs, organ/Pacific Sym./ Carl St. Clair – Naxos Records 8.559749,  77:52 (4/30/13) ****:

By now, anyone who follows contemporary American classical music knows that Michael Daugherty is one of the country’s greatest and most original composers. Anyone who does not know this should get these releases comprising four discs and ten of his most compelling works which offer a great way to get up to speed.

For over twenty years now, the focus of Daugherty’s composition has been to take an admiring, somewhat amusing, sometimes wry and always visionary look at the iconic trends, sights and moments of American culture and history. In so doing, he has created a brilliantly unique style utilizing smatterings of jazz, pop, “minimalism” and his own touches that cannot be characterized that makes Michael Daugherty, in his own way, a uniquely “American” composer. His approach and his writing make him, perhaps, the most unique and archetypical American composer since Copland.

There is so much music here, much of which I hope is familiar to many. For example, his ode to Superman, the Metropolis Symphony, has been played by many orchestras all over the country. Similarly, his amazingly eccentric UFO written for the great percussionist Evelyn Glennie and his beautiful and quirky “road trip”, Route 66, are much honored works in the Daugherty catalogue.

Some of this music may be less familiar, unjustifiably so. Time Machine, from 2003, does not have anything directly in connection with the ‘travelogue’ aspects of the other works on the “Route 66” disc. However, its focus on “Past” and “Future” works nicely to mesh with some of the nostalgic tour of the other works. This is a big vivid orchestral work wherein the ensemble is divided into three parts, requiring three conductors as the orchestra is physically divided on the stage. Daugherty explains that when the three parts play together, it creates a “three dimensional” effect to simulate flying through time. His orchestration is, again, colorful, relying on odd but beautiful effects in the percussion and winds. The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra led by the outstanding American conductor and Daugherty expert Marin Alsop give another great performance.

Philadelphia Stories is, essentially, a three-movement tone “Concerto for the City of Brotherly Love” (in a way), paying homage to various aspects of the inner city (“Sundown On South Street“), the macabre nature of Edgar Allan Poe (“The Tell-Tale Heart“), and the legacy of the dynamic but sometimes controversial conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski (“Bells For Stokowski“). In this last movement, Daugherty creates a sound as if all the bells tolling in Philadelphia represented Stokowski visiting the Liberty Bell. In this recording, Marin Alsop leads the Colorado Symphony in a stirring and committed performance.

Deus ex Machina is a brilliant piano concerto that should get more play for all it has to offer. What makes this surprisingly “serious” work interesting is that it is a concerto for piano in which each movement uses imagery of trains (which, in turn have helped to define and create American expansion). For example, the opening “Fast Forward” is a look at a visionary future in which we have an interconnected world, surging ever forward, brightly. The mood shifts dramatically with “Train of Tears” about Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train ride. This is a sad and reverent look at a critical moment in history. The closing “Night Steam” is a bit of a fun ride on the last of the coal-fired trains of the late nineteenth century in a sweeping view of the country. Soloist Terrence Wilson gives a thoughtful, brilliant performance and the Nashville Symphony under Giancarlo Guerrero is a great orchestra, not known enough, in my opinion.

The most recent Naxos Daugherty offering is “Mount Rushmore” which features the title work for chorus and orchestra. Mount Rushmore for chorus and orchestra takes its cue from the iconic four president’s faces carved into the Black Hills by Gutzon Borglum. Each movement uses a blend of music endemic to the time of the president’s term and/or some of their words and thoughts. One of the more interesting movements, in fact, is the superimposition of the hymn “Rock of Ages” over some words about the grandeur of nature delivered by Theodore Roosevelt at the Grand Canyon. (Borglum chose the faces he wanted to commemorate because of their contributions to the union and to expanding America.The net effect of this piece is simply wonderful! This makes an inspiring, grand and only somewhat quirky musical portrait of this monument and the four men themselves. The ‘symphonic fantasy’ Radio City in honor of Toscanini and the NBC Symphony is a very fun, majestic and somewhat reminiscent look at the Italian conductor who used the power of telecommunication to bring classical music to the masses during a time of great global unrest. Appropriately, this collection closes with the “wildest” work herein: The Gospel According toSister Aimee in reference to the Depression-era Pentecostal preacher Aimee Semple McPherson. Daugherty cleverly captures the frenzy of the times in southern California during Prohibition as he takes us through her wild, guilt- inducing preaching (“Knock Out the Devil”) to the bizarre true escapade wherein Semple allegedly drowned and then ‘miraculously’ re-emerges in Mexico to her self-redeeming efforts selling war bonds, saving her soul and restoring America’s view of her as one their most beloved, if not outrageous, evangelists.

Naxos has shown a tremendous commitment to contemporary American music and here we have two new releases, four discs in all, of one of the country’s most important composers. Michael Daugherty’s music speaks to us all for its topicality and its tonal language that is invigorating, engaging and relevant. I heartily recommend any and all of the discs in these offerings and – for that matter – anything by Daugherty!

—Daniel Coombs

Pieces by William Bolcom and Michael Daugherty were the highlights at Orchestra Hall.

Article by:  WILLIAM RANDALL BEARD, Special to the Star Tribune 
Updated: October 10, 2011 - 4:02 PM 

REVIEW: Pieces by William Bolcom and Michael Daugherty were the highlights at Orchestra Hall.

At Orchestra Hall on Sunday afternoon, VocalEssence gave the regional premieres of two monumental works the organization had co-commissioned: William Bolcom's "Prometheus" and Michael Daugherty's "Mount Rushmore (2010) for Chorus and Orchestra." Under artistic director Philip Brunelle, VocalEssence was joined by Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and Magnum Chorum, the Singers and St. Olaf College's Manitou Singers.

"Mount Rushmore," setting texts of four presidents, was more immediately accessible and ultimately most successful. A degree of bombast aside, Daugherty sets his texts in a musically inventive, emotionally forthright manner.

The climactic final movement, "Abraham Lincoln," a setting of the Gettysburg Address, becomes a soul-ennobling portrait of Lincoln's deep humanity. The third is a full-throated paean to Theodore Roosevelt and his love for the American wilderness. It's as grand as the man himself, and the land he preserved.

The opening movements are more intimate. "George Washington" juxtaposes a Revolutionary War anthem, reflective of the commander-in-chief, with a letter that expresses a moment of aged resignation. "Thomas Jefferson" interweaves a song written to him by a paramour and a letter of his to her, with a setting of words from the Declaration of Independence.

Bolcom patterned "Prometheus" after Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, the piano depicting the suffering of the god chained to a rock as punishment for giving humanity fire. He set a poem by Byron, but words were often less important than the dense soundscapes.

From the cacophonous opening piano solo, strikingly played by Jeffrey Biegel, to the final moment of peace, Bolcom created a compelling dramatic trajectory.

Both works were sung with passionate commitment and technical mastery. Brunelle's subtle ferocity on the podium brought out the best in all the forces and the pieces.

It was nice to hear the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, under William Schrickel, play Samuel Barber's Overture to "The School for Scandal." Barber was a bright light of 20th-century American music and his centenary in 2010 went virtually unnoticed. The orchestra gave a sprightly reading of the witty score.

The concert opened with Gustav Holst's "A Hymn to Jesus," in celebration of the 20th anniversary of VocalEssence associate conductor Sigrid Johnson. Her strong leadership gave the ethereal music a forward thrust and she maintained firm control of the dynamics, at both ends of the spectrum. She gave Brunelle a run for his money.

Fire and Blood 10 out of 10 stars
Fire and Blood (Violin Concerto); MotorCity Triptych; Raise the Roof (for timpani and orchestra)
Ida Kavafian (violin); Brian Jones (timpani)

Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Neeme Järvi

Naxos- 8.559372(CD)
No Reference Recording

Listen to samples on


Michael Daugherty is a wonderful composer, and these three pieces make splendid listening. Fire and Blood is a violin concerto, and a damn fine one. Violin concertos are exceptionally difficult to write, especially in balancing the soloist against a large modern orchestra. Daugherty handles the challenge with aplomb. In the first movement, for example, he keeps the accompaniment light but colorful. Sounds that come across as hackneyed in the hands of other composers, such as harp glissandos or little glockenspiel accents, here sound freshly imagined, while the solo writing offers much that is genuinely lyrical and beautiful. Ida Kavafian puts plenty of heart into her playing, really digging into the tunes while making light of the technical difficulties.

Raise the Roof, for timpani and orchestra, does exactly what the title promises, but once again the music never sounds gimmicky. MotorCity Triptych features the orchestra's fine brass section: trumpet in the second movement and three trombones in the third. Daugherty's style mixes popular music idioms with traditional classical forms with complete naturalness. You never feel that he's trying too hard, or merely being trendy. Neeme Järvi and the band make exactly the bold, glittering sounds that the music requires, and I can only wonder why a disc that was recorded between 2001 and 2003 is only being issued now. Great sonics too. [8/12/2009]

--David Hurwitz

Detroit Free Press Mark Stryker Column: Daugherty's Works for DSO Shine on New Disc
By Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press

Aug. 9--It's good to have the Detroit Symphony Orchestra back in the recording game. "Fire and Blood" (***--out of four stars, Naxos) is the first CD by the DSO in a decade to be released on a widely distributed label with an international reputation. The album, taken from Orchestra Hall concerts conducted by former music director Neeme Järvi in 2001 and 2003, documents three works written for the DSO by Michael Daugherty, composer-in-residence from 1999 through 2003. The official release is Aug. 25, but iTunes will offer the music digitally beginning Tuesday.

It's fitting that Daugherty should come first, partly because this music has been waiting a long time for release and partly because his four years as resident composer constitute a major chapter in recent DSO history and were a key initiative of the latter part of Jarvi's landmark 15-year tenure. A faculty member at the University of Michigan and one of America's most frequently performed living composers, Daugherty is best known for rhythmically snappy, DayGlo-colored and vernacular-influenced scores that take their inspiration from American pop culture icons like Elvis Presley and Jacqueline Onassis.

The three works here dig deep into Detroit's cultural soil. "Fire and Blood" (2003) is a violin concerto inspired by Diego Rivera's incomparable "Detroit Industry" murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts. "MotorCity Triptych" (2000) proposes a travelogue with movements that channel Motown concerts at the Roostertail nightclub in 1966, a high-speed drive along Michigan Avenue and an homage to civil rights hero Rosa Parks. "Raise the Roof" (2003), a de facto timpani concerto, was commissioned for the opening of the Max M. Fisher Music Center.

Best of the lot is "Fire and Blood," which made a dazzling impression on its premiere and sounds even better six years later. It is the most profound Daugherty piece I know, the best example of his eclectic and kinetic style reaching beyond surface excitement for deeply moving music that touches the soul.

Played with striking authority by Detroit-bred soloist Ida Kavafian and a vibrantly alive orchestra under Jarvi's baton, the 28-minute, three-movement piece translates Rivera's dynamic depiction of the River Rouge assembly line and heroic laborers into music that pulsates with muscle, percussive commotion, sweeping energy, bright colors and mournful shadow.

The outer movements are full of fury as the soloist, rarely out of the spotlight, explodes in fury and sheets-of-sounds passages. The central movement, inspired by Rivera's wife, artist Frida Kahlo, features a nostalgic minor-key melody perched halfway between a mariachi folk melody and Mahler funeral march that throbs with feeling.

The highly syncopated "MotorCity Triptych" is less consistent than the concerto, but its best moments -- particularly the Rosa Parks finale, with three trombones orating sermons of blues shouts, plaintive cries and fragments of the spiritual "Oh Freedom" -- pack a strong emotional wallop. Elsewhere there are evocations of Motown ballads, Middle Eastern restaurants and more filtered through Daugherty's neon orchestrations. The ear catches streaks of inspiration, but some melodies veer close to cliche and the collage of ideas doesn't always meld into an organic whole.

On the other hand, the performance is exemplary. Jarvi invests the music with his incomparable spontaneity and rhythmic pop and the soloists -- principally the trombone trio of Ken Thompkins, Michael Becker and Randy Hawes and trumpeter Ramon Parcells -- play like aces. "Raise the Roof," a 13-minute showcase for the DSO's brilliant virtuoso timpanist Brian Jones, is heavily flavored by jazz, especially in the Stan Kenton-like passages girded by Latin rhythms, a piano vamp and punchy brass. It's not the most serious music, but it was never meant to be. It's a party piece and there's nothing wrong with that.