Michael Daugherty: Fire and Blood

Review by: David Hurwitz

Artistic Quality: 10

Sound Quality: 10

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]

Buy Now from Arkiv Music

Recording Details:

Reference Recording: none

MICHAEL DAUGHERTY - Fire and Blood (Violin Concerto); MotorCity Triptych; Raise the Roof (for timpani and orchestra)

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