"Daugherty: Fire & Blood - Motorcity Triptych; Raise the Roof"
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works commissioned and premiered by
the Detroit Symphony Orchestra during
Michael Daugherty's four years as Composerin-
Residence. Inspired by Diego Rivera's
monumental fresco and Frida Kahlo's paintings
created in Detroit, Michigan, Fire and Blood 'rivets the ear with a bold palette of
colors and the skillful elaboration of vibrant themes' (Detroit News). MotorCity
Triptych, 'striking both in its brilliance and in its technical rigor,' is a road trip
through the sounds of Detroit: the 1960s pulse of Motown, the motor rhythms of
Michigan Avenue, and the legend of civil rights icon Rosa Parks. Raise the Roof,
composed for the opening of Detroit's Max M. Fisher Music Center, is a grand
acoustic construction featuring the timpani in a tour de force of urban polyrhythms.
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 Järvi'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 cliché and the collage of ideas doesn't always meld into an organic whole.
On the other hand, the performance is exemplary. Järvi 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. --Detroit Free Press, Mark Stryker, September 2009
by Brian Jones
Top Customer Reviews
The same dynamic takes place in this new disc of three works by Daugherty that were commissioned during his period as Composer-in-Residence with the Detroit Symphony. Fire and Blood (2003) is a full-blown violin concerto that begins with a depiction of Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry murals, as well as scenes from his life, and that of his remarkable wife Frida Kahlo. A highlight is the third movement "Assembly Line", where Daugherty says (in his revealing liner notes) the violin soloist "is like the worker, surrounded by a mechanical orchestra." This is a work that deserves to be taken up by other orchestras; perhaps the excellent soloist on this CD, Ida Kavafian, will take it on the road, or it will be picked up by one or more of the next generation of violinists.
The MotorCity Triptych (2000) is another fun piece by Daugherty which also has a more serious side. This is especially true of the third movement "Rosa Parks Boulevard", with its evocation of African-American preaching through the use of percussion and two trombones. Daugherty calls Raise the Roof (2003) "a grand acoustic construction". I'm sure every timpanist in the world is itching to play this piece.Read more ›
Fire and Blood is a full-blooded, knock your socks off violin concerto that makes pressing technical demands of the soloist but never descends to the level of an empty-headed violin showpiece. The work draws its inspiration from the Detroit Industry murals by the great Mexican artist Diego Rivera and the color and energy that Rivera brought to his art is reflected in the music. Violinist Ida Kavafian plays this music with muscle aplenty and the Detroit Symphony under conductor Neeme Järvi is nothing short of spectacular.
The other works on the recording, Motor City Triptych and Raise the Roof, are also superb. Motor City Triptych is a brilliantly jaunty evocative piece which pays tribute to the Motown sound, Michigan Avenue in Detroit and Rosa Parks. This seems like something of an odd mix but Daugherty's vivid orchestration and rhythmic skill make each movement a memorable tone poem. Brass lovers take note, there's plenty of interesting work for trumpet and trombone throughout. Raise the Roof is a concerto for timpani and orchestra and was inspired by such grand architectural wonders as Notre Dame Cathedral and the Empire State Building.Read more ›
" Volcano " frolics with violin successions of blazing interludes, captivating attention through the inferno furnaces of the imagination.
In " River Rouge " Frida Kahlo's struggle to overcome rivers of pain expresses a tantalizing larger movement of forceful emotions with her desire for the fullness of life. The violinist lends form and grace with colored calmative tones. The music forces its way into the listeners soul.
" Assembly Line " dramatizes the exhausting pace of a worker mechanically driven like the panels in Riveras' mural. Metal instruments echo a factory environment, while the violin strings converge to evoke a riveting motion toward the end.
In " Motown Mondays " we feel the soul in rhythm with manifestations of mellow climes of feeling and musical intruments orchestrating harmonies of emotion.
" Pedal to the Metal " is an electric, pulsating succession of trumpet and strings traveling through gradations of light, like the neon signs along an assembly line.
" Rosa Parks Blvd " encumbers movements of defiant strength and soul, reflecting her refusal to move to the back of the bus, subversively heartfelt and rhythmically played by the trombone, spiked by the beating of the bass drum.
" Raise the Roof " In this piece, the composer used many unusual instruments to resonate with historical monuments. Vividly played, the tuba, flutes and finally variations of the timpani acoustically rise to the majestic architecture with gothic undertones celebrating the renowned giants of construction.
K Jordan USA
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm not sure what to think of the music of Daugherty. It isn't extremely demanding or innovative and I can see the tricks to attract a good clap and they make me resist, yet I do... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Discophage
Well done CD by the Detroit Symphony of Michael Daugherty's music! Recommended!Published 20 months ago by Numismata
My favorite on this album is Raise the Roof !!! Fabulous patterns of percussion and brass; repetition with perfection.Published on August 8, 2014 by Gigi Nelson
The quality of the performance itself is only second to masterful sound engineering and recording. These works are rivoting, high-energy, tonally-charged, rhythmically dynamic and... Read morePublished on March 5, 2014 by Valencio Jackson Jr.
Even if you don't care for classical music-this CD might change your mind.
The guest Violinist- Ida Kavrfian in in-believable. Read more
There is a great deal of today's contemporary 'classical' music that is remarkably unlistenable, but some composers are geniuses and know how to compose fantastic music that's... Read morePublished on June 23, 2013 by Warren A. Park
Other reviewers have gone to into great detail about both the quality of Daugherty's music and the playing of the Detroit Symphony. Read morePublished on September 8, 2010 by Thomas Martin
Michael Daugherty; he of the Metropolis Symphony, UFO, Philadelphia Stories, and myriad other works inspired by modern American life and pop culture; is currently Professor of... Read morePublished on March 2, 2010 by Moldyoldie