About this Recording
8.559165 - DAUGHERTY, M.: Philadelphia Stories / UFO (Glennie, Colorado Symphony, Alsop)
English  German 

Philadelphia Stories for Orchestra • UFO for Solo Percussion and Orchestra

Philadelphia Stories (2001) for orchestra was commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra. The world première was given by the Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of David Zinman at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia on 15th November 2001. A musical travelogue of the sounds and rhythms of Philadelphia, my third symphony is divided into three movements: the first movement begins at sundown, the second movement after midnight, and the third movement at sunrise. In Sundown On South Street, I recreate the groove of people cruising down one of the most popular streets of Philadelphia, where one finds nightclubs and musicians from all walks of life. The many generations of musicians who lived in Philadelphia and walked down this musical street include Sun Ra, John Coltrane, Fabian, Mario Lanza, and Patti LaBelle. In the 1980s I too was a frequent visitor to South Street, playing jazz piano and performing experimental electronic music in various nightclubs. Not only is Philadelphia said to be one of America’s most haunted cities but it is also where Edgar Allan Poe penned The Tell-Tale Heart, one of his most famous tales of horror. In his lyric poetry Poe also often invoked the lute and the lyre. Tell- Tale Harp is an arabesque for two solo harps and orchestra. Arranged stereophonically on the stage, the solo harpists play obsessive rhythms, rolling chords, and ghostly echoes in a periodic heart-like pulse. To quote Poe himself, we hear “spirits moving musically, to a lute’s well-tuned law”. In Bells for Stokowski I imagine Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977), one of the most influential and controversial conductors/arrangers of the twentieth century, visiting the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia at sunrise and listening to all the bells of the city resonate. As maestro of the Philadelphia Orchestra (1912-36) he created a sensation by conducting world premières of orchestral works by composers such as Stravinsky and Varèse, and enraged classical purists by conducting his lavish Romantic orchestral transcriptions of J.S. Bach. In my rousing tribute to Stokowski, I have composed an original theme in the style of Bach that is modulated through a series of canonic tonal and atonal variations in my own musical language. Later I also introduce my own transcription of Bach’s C major Prelude from The Well- Tempered Klavier. In the coda I evoke the famous overthe- top “Stokowski sound,” by making the orchestra resound like an enormous, rumbling gothic organ.

UFO (1999) for solo percussion and orchestra is inspired by unidentified flying objects and sounds. The concerto was commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra through a grant from the John and June Hechinger Commissioning Fund and written for Evelyn Glennie. The world première was performed by Evelyn Glennie, solo percussion, and the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin, at the Kennedy Center, Washington D.C. on 10th April 1999. The concerto begins with Traveling Music where the percussion soloist, in the guise of an alien from outer space, mysteriously enters the concert hall playing a waterphone and mechanical siren. The second movement, Unidentified, refers to the famous UFO crash in 1947 near Roswell, New Mexico. Large scraps of unidentifiable metal were discovered in the desert and quickly moved by the U.S. military to Area 51 in Nevada, where its secret base was reputed to be the repository for alien objects. What happened to those scattered scraps? They resonate on the concert stage, as the percussion soloist plays on xylophone and eight pieces of unidentified metal. In Flying, the third movement, we hear a virtuoso performance by the solo percussionist on vibraphone, mark tree, and cymbals that hover and shimmer in the air like flying saucers. In the fourth movement, the percussion soloist performs sleight-of-hand improvisations with strange sounding percussion instruments accompanied by a contrabassoon soloist and the percussion section, which is located in the balcony. This movement, entitled ???, may leave the listener wondering: is this another UFO sighting? Pulsating with rhythms in 5/4 time, the final movement is entitled Objects. It features virtuosic drumming by the percussion soloist at warp speed to suggest the outer trappings and inner machinery of a fine-tuned alien aircraft.

Michael Daugherty

Close the window