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Ken Smith
Gramophone, September 2013

Michael Daugherty leapt to attention in a single bound with The Metropolis Symphony…an almost shamelessly populist tribute to Superman, and for the next two decades has unfolded a continuing ode, examination and deconstruction of American vernacular culture with Ives-like eclecticism and a rather un-Ivesian craving for immediate gratification. This collection of recent works shows that his sense of cultural and pop-cultural iconography is in no way diminished.

Carl St Clair wields his Pacific Symphony—particularly its brass—with an exciting grasp of postmodern Americana. © 2013 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone




Allen Gimbel
American Record Guide, September 2013

Daugherty becomes more impressive with every release. Don’t miss this, even if you’ve had reservations about this composer in the past. © 2013 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide



Chris Morgan
Scene Magazine, August 2013

The title track on this recent Naxos recording is as big, bombastic and beautiful as the monument it describes. American composer Michael Daugherty’s tribute to the massive sculpture located in the Black Hills of South Dakota was inspired by the lives and words of the four presidents whose likenesses were carved into Mount Rushmore…The other two compositions which appear on this CD—Radio City: Symphonic Fantasy on Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Orchestra and The Gospel According to Sister Aimee—pay tribute to America as well, and to the colorful personalities and rugged individualism that laid the foundation for what the country was to become. © 2013 Scene Magazine Read complete article



Dan Morgan
MusicWeb International, August 2013

Mount Rushmore is a terrific piece, as much a contribution to musical Americana as anything by Copland or Thomson. Moreover, it’s played with tremendous verve and passion by St Clair and his multitude of musicians, and the recording’s wide dynamics are very well caught by the Naxos engineers. There are hints of other ages here, but this is no clumsy, derivative pastiche; no, Daugherty speaks with an assured and individual voice that deserves to be more widely heard.

New York’s Radio City, the home of Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony, is the second landmark to be celebrated here. It’s also a homage to the fiery maestro, whose first NBC concert is evoked in the Vivaldian echoes and emphatic thrust of O, Brave New World. Daugherty has a lively and inventive style and the Pacific band give this music all the crunch and punch it needs, before modulating into the equally forthright yet sometimes dreamily nostalgic Ode to the Old World that follows. Happily there are no longueurs to speak of, and listeners of all stripes will surely respond to the fine writing on display here and in the witty Toscanini portrait, On the Air.

Daugherty then turns his attention to another icon, Aimee Semple McPherson, who he calls ‘the first important religious celebrity of the new, mass-media era of the 1930s’. Anyone remotely familiar with the antics of modern tele-evangelists as embodied by Billy Graham and many others since will smile—even laugh out loud—at the exaggerated organ glissandi and burping revivalist brass of Knock Out the Devil. This is a fiendishly clever piece of writing that captures to perfection that weird blend of strained piety and outrageous theatre that accompanies these preachers and their very public ministry. Organist Paul Jacobs tackles his riotous part with obvious glee and the Pacific brass have a field day too.

I enjoyed this disc so much I barely noticed the sweltering summer heat outside. This is highly original music that avoids mawkishness in the first two pieces and is so deftly drawn in the third as to signal a composer of accomplishment and good judgement. Daugherty’s chatty liner-notes are part of the whole entertainment, and the sonics are simply awesome.

A well-chosen programme that highlights Daugherty’s prodigious talent; great fun. © 2013 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Tom Huizenga
National Public Radio, July 2013

Symphonic Music, American Style: 3 Must-Hear Albums

As an homage, Daugherty’s Radio City tells the Toscanini story in three fantastical movements—from landing in New York after being exiled from fascist Italy, to a melancholic, homesick central panel to a tour de force finale, inspired by Toscanini’s 1944 broadcast of Tchaikovsky’s symphonic fantasy The Tempest. Here Daugherty imagines the maestro as Shakespeare’s Prospero, unleashing his magical powers on the orchestra, as a mischievous flute and harp figure ignites a tornado of percussion and brass. The music is fun, frenzied and should be terrific to hear live judging from this energized recording by the Pacific Symphony and conductor Carl St. Clair. © National Public Radio




Daniel Coombs
Audiophile Audition, June 2013

DAUGHERTY, M.: Mount Rushmore / Radio City / The Gospel According to Sister Aimee (P. Jacobs, Pacific Chorale, Pacific Symphony, St. Clair) 8.559749
DAUGHERTY, M.: American Pop (3-CD Box Set) 8.503267

Naxos has shown a tremendous commitment to contemporary American music and here we have two new releases, four discs in all, of one of the country’s most important composers. Michael Daugherty’s music speaks to us all for its topicality and its tonal language that is invigorating, engaging and relevant. I heartily recommend any and all of the discs in these offerings and—for that matter—anything by Daugherty! © 2013 Audiophile Audition Read complete review




MaestroSteve
Cinemusical, May 2013

This is another of their [Naxos’s] fine releases of Daugherty’s music not to be without.

The performances by the Pacific Symphony (and Chorale) are really stellar. The orchestra continues to be one of the highlights of Southern California’s musical landscape. Its critically acclaimed performances of American music…continue to be important additions to the recorded catalogue. This is a must-have release for those who appreciate accessible concert music. © 2013 Cinemusical Read complete review



Steven Bergman
EDGE Atlanta, May 2013

Naxos Records presents the latest release from composer Michael Daugherty…The works combine to form a fascinating look at several important centerpieces…

The three subjects featured on this recording make for an absorbing look at the current compositions of the University of Michigan professor. © 2013 EDGE Atlanta Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, May 2013

Michael Daugherty was born in 1954 in the United States, the eldest of four musical brothers, he shot to international fame in 1994 with his Metropolis Symphony. Rejecting influences that emanated from the Second Viennese School, he is travelling down a path that is far more congenial to audiences, yet is sufficiently progressive to generate new sonorities. The first work on the disc pictures the sculpture of the four American presidents on Mount Rushmore in a big and bold score lasting over half an hour and scored for chorus and orchestra, and text based on the words of the great politicians. Almost as long is Radio City: Symphonic Fantasy on Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra, a work recalling the legendary live broadcasts that captivated the nation for almost twenty years from 1937, its three movements using quotations from music he performed—though they are well ‘hidden’. The final three tracks reflect The Gospel According to Sister Aimee, Aimee Semple McPherson being a religious personality in the 1930s who, to some, fell from grace in her private life. Calling on the orchestra for a considerable show of virtuosity, the Pacific Orchestra and its conductor, Carl St.Clair, obviously relish the challenge. Paul Jacobs is the brilliant organist, and the big, noisy and hard-hitting sound comes from the orchestra’s home in Costa Mesa, California. © David’s Review Corner




David Hurwitz
ClassicsToday.com, May 2013

Michael Daugherty continues his musical exploration of iconic bits of Americana on this highly entertaining disc containing premiere recordings of three major works.

The Gospel According to Sister Aimee is… Brilliantly scored for organ, brass, and percussion, with the organ part vividly played by Paul Jacobs…

…there’s no question that Carl St. Clair and the Pacific Symphony and Chorale do a splendid job… © 2013 ClassicsToday.com Read complete review






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