Review By Boosey & Hawkes,March 2011
The London Symphony Orchestra and Kristjan Järvi present the UK premiere of American composer Michael Daugherty’s violin concerto Fire and Blood on 17 April at the Barbican, with Israeli violinist Vadim Gluzman as soloist.
Fire and Blood, one of Michael Daugherty’s most widely performed works, was premiered by the Detroit Symphony in 2003. The concerto was inspired by Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, who spent two years in Detroit in the 1930s when Rivera was commissioned to paint four large murals representing the city’s automobile industry.
Review By Oleg Ledeniov,MusicWeb International,February 2010
It’s one thing when you listen to a movie soundtrack and just enjoy it, as music. But it can be quite a different experience when you know the movie and its story. The music on this disc can also be appreciated on two levels. Just listen to it—and you’ll probably like it, for it is colorful, brave, modern, beautiful, interesting. Then read the excellent, comprehensive notes by the composer, Michael Daugherty, and the listening experience will be much richer. There is helluva lot he wanted to put into the music. And what is remarkable, he really succeeded in doing it!
Review By Craig M. Zeichner,Some Modest Proposals,January 2010
Daugherty’s Fire and Blood concerto has balls and Kavafian delivers a brilliantly muscular performance. Daugherty’s music is disliked by the pasty-faced academics—“it’s glib and filled with cheap effects”—they shriek. All the more reason to love his music…
Review By Allen Gimbel,American Record Guide,January 2010
Michael Daugherty’s Fire and Blood (2003) is a violin concerto in three movements inspired by Mexican muralist Diego Rivera’s Detroit Institute of Arts murals on Detroit’s auto industry. It opens with your typical Daugherty rock boogie, and the sumptuous second theme throbs with sensual Mexican heat. II, a moving slow movement, is a dark portrait of Rivera’s wife, polio-stricken painter Frida Kahlo. The dance-like toccata finale is designed to bring the audience to its feet. Tonal and thoroughly romantic, the work is a terrific showcase for Ms Kavafian, who plays it with confidence and bravura. The audience responds with lusty enthusiasm. A fine addition to the modern violin concerto repertoire.
Review By Detroit Free Press,December 2009
…Daugherty—violin concerto “Fire and Blood” was the highlight of his tenure as Detroit Symphony Orchestra resident conductor—kinetic, emotional and a dazzling showcase for soloist Ida Kavafian.
Review By Michael Barone,National Public Radio,December 2009
Michael Daugherty often draws upon the American popular music vernacular for his harmonic and rhythmic building blocks. The Violin Concerto was inspired by the famous “Detroit Industry” Depression-era murals by Diego Rivera, and the resulting score bristles with energy. The three trombone soloists in the final panel of the Motor City Triptych evoke the impassioned delivery of African-American preachers, as experienced by the composer while he attended a church service in Detroit with Rosa Parks. The Detroit orchestra shows its mettle in these well-recorded concert performances.
Review By Carla Rees,MusicWeb International,December 2009
American composer Michael Daugherty was Composer-in-Residence with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for four years. During that time, he was commissioned to compose works symbolizing the city of Detroit in its various aspects.
Review By Jed Distler,Gramophone,December 2009
Daugherty’s highly accessible and individual music is well worth attention
Review By Peter Burwasser,Fanfare,November 2009
We are hearing more and more from Michael Daugherty. He deserves the attention for his fine ability to skirt the border of kitsch and serious music. Actually, his titles, typified by the three on this program, do not help his case. They suggest cartoon music, but that is not what is delivered. Daugherty’s technique is sophisticated enough that he need not rely on purely programmatic effects to underline the theatrical implications in his music. Thus, while the third movement of Fire and Blood , entitled “Assembly Line,” suggests the energy and relentless momentum of a factory and includes the sounds of horns and hammers, it does not mimic it. This is a far cry from the deliberate and often crude machine age music that was popular with the avant-gardists of the
All of the music on this program was written for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra during Daugherty’s four-year stint as composer in residence, so it is not surprising that he takes cues from auto industry culture. But MotorCity Triptych , consisting of “Motown Mondays,” “Pedal-to-the-Metal,” and “Rosa Parks Boulevard” could just as well be called works for orchestra numbers 1, 2, and 3, and I would be hard-pressed to associate the music with what is suggested by the titles. The first two pieces have a Coplandesque folksiness about them, indeed, “Pedal-to-the-Metal” opens with a timpani figure that is imitative of the iconic opening to Fanfare for the Common Man before it launches into a kinetic Bartók-like drive. “Rosa Parks Boulevard” is a slow, bluesy tribute to a legend of the civil rights movement. Daugherty seems more comfortable in faster music; here, he meanders and tends to lose focus. The work would have been more effective at half the 12-minute-plus length. The program closes with a tour de force for orchestra and timpani solo, an appropriately celebratory piece written to inaugurate the DSO’s new hall, Max M. Fisher Music Center. The propulsive Latin rhythms expressed in big, swaggering sound recall Villa-Lobos.
Fire and Blood is a very fine new violin concerto in the populist, virtuosic manner of the violin concertos of Barber and Prokofiev. I like the well-written and unabashedly entertaining music of Daugherty overall, but this work is a standout for its neo-Classical concision and clarity of expression. Kavafian tears it up, and gets superb support from Järvi and his splendid band. The live recordings were captured in vivid sound. This is an excellent orchestral omnibus of the work of a very successful American composer.
Review By Éric Champagne,La Scena Musicale,November 2009
La musique de Michael Daugherty exploite directement les idiomes de la musique populaire américaine du XXe siècle, et plus particulièrement le blues, le Motown et le rock. Très appréciées par nos voisins du Sud, ses oeuvres offrent une réflexion sur l’histoire et la culture populaire américaine. Enregistré en concert lors de leur création, ce disque regroupe les trois oeuvres que Daugherty réalisa en tant que compositeur résident à l’Orchestre Symphonique de Détroit (entre 2000 et 2003). Fire and Blood est un concerto pour violon à la virtuosité féroce. Inspiré par une fresque de Diego Rivera, ce concerto se veut une
Review By John Sunier,Audiophile Audition,October 2009
Review By Jack Borrebach,Brink Magazine,October 2009
DAUGHERTY, M.: Fire and Blood / MotorCity Triptych / Raise the Roof (Kavafian, B. Jones, Detroit Symphony, N. Jarvi) 8.559372
DAUGHERTY, M.: Metropolis Symphony / Deus ex Machina (T. Wilson, Nashville Symphony, Guerrero) 8.559635
Review By Robert R. Reilly,InsideCatholic.com,October 2009
If the auto industry had half the energy of Daugherty’s depiction of it here, the government would not now be running it. The piece can be enjoyed simply as a terrific violin concerto without any AAA associations. The MotorCity Triptych is a fun evocation of Detroit, from Motown to cars, to Rosa Parks Boulevard…Neeme Jarvi, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and violinist Ida Kavafian convey this music’s excitement with flair and complete conviction, and are provided with spectacular sound.
Review By Lee Streby,Lee’s McBlog,September 2009
Mr Daugherty has the rare distinction of being one of the most commissioned, performed, and recorded American composers on the American concert scene today, achieving strong success alongside contemporaries such as Jennifer Higdon and Michael Torke. Included on Daugherty’s new, second disc, are three well-crafted works that were commissioned, premiered, and recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra between 2000–2003, under the baton of Neeme Järvi, with one featuring violin soloist Ida Kavafian.
Review By Craig Zeichner,Some Modest Proposals,September 2009
Review By Bradley Bambarger,The Star-Ledger,September 2009
Iowa-born composer Michael Daugherty knows how to make an orchestra sparkle, even if he has written his share of glib crowd-pleasers over the years. The 55-year-old musician was inspired during his 1999–2003 composer-in-residence gig in Detroit, which yielded this disc of three live recordings—including his “Fire + Blood” violin concerto, which is full of the color and rhythm to be found in, say, a Diego Rivera mural. Here, Ida Kavafian gives it a scintillating performance on violin. Conductor Neeme Jarvi and the virtuosic Detroit Symphony also play the daylights out of the timpani concerto “Raise the Roof” and the heavy industry and gospel-inflected “Motor City Triptych.”
Review By ,Infodad.com,August 2009
Neeme Järvi…brings considerable spirit and enthusiasm to three recent Daugherty works for soloists and orchestra. All these pieces give the Detroit Symphony Orchestra—with which Daugherty spent four years as composer-in-residence—quite a workout. Fire and Blood (2003) was inspired by the Depression-era murals of Diego Rivera and the emotional and physical suffering of Rivera’s wife, Frida Kahlo. This is effective and often flashy music, especially in the finale (“Assembly Line”), which moves with considerable speed and surrounds the solo violin with noises that resemble the sounds of Edgard Varèse. Ida Kavafian plows through all this as well as bringing heartfelt involvement to the work’s second movement,
Review By David Hurwitz,ClassicsToday.com,August 2009
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.
Review By Mike D. Brownell,Allmusic.com,August 2009
Composer Michael Daugherty is among the most active and prolific of today’s living composers. His works are performed frequently in all of the world’s major orchestras and new commissions by these orchestras and soloists are popping up all the time. This Naxos album features three such commissions for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. First on the program is the highly-engaging, instantly accessible “Fire and Blood”, a work for solo violin and orchestra inspired by the Diego Rivera murals painted in the Detroit Institute of Arts. The album’s liner notes do an excellent job of tying in the visual component to what Daugherty has composed. Violinist Ida Kavafian, who is quite skilled at delivering “fire and blood” in her playing, joins
Review By Jay Batzner,Sequenza21.com,January 2009
The Detroit Symphony released three excellent performances (live recordings, to boot) of orchestral music by Michigan-based composer Michael Daugherty. Fire and Blood for violin and orchestra was inspired by Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry murals and throughout the composition Daugherty adeptly integrates Latin-inspired touches into his regular boisterous musical language without sounding cliche or silly. Ida Kavafian draws every ounce of passion and fire (and blood) out of the music and brings it into the sonic world. Daugherty’s musical language is, on one hand, very traditional and comfortable but also includes touches and flares of more expressionistic passages that lend much to the drama and tension of his music. Given the picturesque subject matter I hear a lot of
MotorCity Tryptich is a lighter exploration of Detroit-inspired sources. In “Motown Mondays,” Daugherty again takes a foreign (to orchestras, anyway) musical language and sets it within the orchestra with flair and panache that goes above and beyond cheesy “pops concert” fodder. “Pedal-to-the-Metal” takes some obvious Copland references and runs wild and free with them. “Rosa Parks Boulevard” starts with some dramatic harmonies and morphs into and out of various scenes and landscapes. The trombone section is heavily featured in this movement and play with a rich, soulful sound.
The timpani concerto/showpiece Raise the Roof is a perfect closer for the disc. Brian Jones, timpani soloist, is a great force in front of the orchestra but also brings subtlety and nuance to the quieter passages. The rapid pitch changes of the midpoint cadenza are clean, crisp, and musically done…
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