Marin Alsop / Evelyn Glennie

Michael Daugherty: Philadelphia Stories; UFO

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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.

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