Daugherty: Philadelphia Stories; UFO

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Daugherty
WORKS: Philadelphia Stories; UFO
PERFORMER: Evelyn Glennie (percussion); Colorado SO/Marin Alsop
CATALOGUE NO: 8.559165
The composer Michael Finnissy has referred to ‘the potency of cheap music [and] the annexing of inverted snobbery by aesthetics’ in connection with his Gershwin arrangements (see review in Instrumental). Michael Daugherty seems to have made a career of just such an approach, his aggressively lightweight (but undeniably popular) compositions sounding as if they had somehow escaped from the cosy parochialism of the American regional festival circuit. That said, while I have little time for Daugherty’s work in general, seeming as it does to me like over-egged documentary soundtrack music, I find this recording perfectly listenable because of the exuberance and conviction – leavened with a certain knowingness – that Marin Alsop brings to the proceedings. This is actually the second time that Evelyn Glennie has recorded UFO, but this version of the percussive tour de force far surpasses the earlier release on Klavier, largely for these reasons. As a performer, Glennie is not beyond criticism (she often plays too hard and too fast), but here she’s clearly in her element. The other work here is a pleasant enough musical postcard inspired by the city of Philadelphia, animated and contemplative by turns. The recorded sound is spacious, accommodating both detail and grand gesture. Roger Thomas