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Tales of Hemingway/American Gothic/Once Upon a Castle (September 2016)

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Awarded three GRAMMY® Awards February 2017 in the categories of Best Classical Instrumental Solo (Zuill Bailey, Tales of Hemingway), Best Contemporary Classical Composition (Tales of Hemingway) and Best Classical Compendium

 

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 high 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.

 

Allmusic review by James Manheim:

The style of American composer Michael Daugherty has evolved in the years since he made a splash with works like Sunset Strip that mapped hip popular allusions onto a lean Stravinskian structure. From the evidence of the two concertos and single orchestral work here, Daugherty has moved in the direction of neo-Romantic program music, although the composer is still recognizable enough. The three works here, all inspired by icons of American culture, make a satisfyingly coherent whole, but are varied in technique. The strongest work may be the last. Once Upon a Castle was written in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 2003 and revised in 2015. It is inspired by the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California, and by the film in which that home played such a large role, Orson Welles' Citizen Kane; and it captures very effectively the mix of epic grandiloquence and wistfulness in that film, with the solo organ of Paul Jacobs evoking the vast spaces of the castle. The three-movement American Gothic refers not only to that iconic Grant Wood painting, but also two of the painter's others: the central slow movement will make you want to look up Wood's slightly surreal original. The opening cello concerto, Tales of Hemingway, performed by cellist Zuill Bailey and the Nashville Symphony under Giancarlo Guerrero(who premiered the work), may serve as a little scenic tour of some famous Hemingway works, but does little to suggest their deeper currents. Nothing here is less than pleasing, though, and this music is the bread and butter of the Nashville Symphony, which has established itself in the forefront of American music that is both populist and contemporary. Recommended.