The band idiom is favorable for the music of Michigan-based composer Michael Daugherty, who combines a hard Stravinskian edge with references to popular culture and to brass-ensemble polyphony. Both the American-urban side and the technical side of Daugherty's music, manifested in the frequent use of canons, sit comfortably in the setting of a symphonic band, for which he has frequently composed. Except for Niagara Falls (1997), these compositions date from the 2000s. They offer some good examples of Daugherty's large-scale double meanings: Raise the Roof, for example, is both a tribute to large architectural structures such as the Empire State Building and an essay for timpani, requiring a highly proficient player. That's what it gets in Andre Dowell of the University of Michigan Symphony Band, recording in the presence of Daugherty himself and delivering performanes far beyond the norm for a student ensemble. Under conductor Michael Haithcock, they both prove themselves equal to the considerable technical demands of these works and catch the wit in Daugherty's stylistic juxtapositions, which require a light hand and something of a sly, relaxed attitude. The sound engineers coax clear, subtle sounds out of the University of Michigan's perilously sensitive Hill Auditorium. For listeners interested in exploring Daugherty beyond the composer's much-exposed Elvis compositions, this disc should not be overlooked.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Brooklyn Bridge, for band|