This fine release from Naxos contains two recent works from American composer Michael Daugherty (b. 1954), Philadelphia Stories, composed in 2001, and UFO, from 1998. Classical music fans with an appetite to hear new music but with an aversion to being aurally assaulted should find both these works quite worth of an audition, as both are adventurous but easy to listen to, satisfying rather than stultifying.
Philadelphia Stories is essentially three tone poems tied together by their relationship to the city of Philadelphia. The opening piece, "Sundown on South Street," is pleasant in a movie-soundtrack sort of way. "Tell-Tale Harp," the second piece, is much more interesting, and will perk up your ears with the zest that it brings to the harp part. The third piece of this trilogy, "Bells for Stokowski," pulls out all the stops, just as the old Maestro used to do. What a hoot!
UFO is said to have been inspired by unidentified flying objects. Its five movements abound with energy, and percussionist Evelyn Glennie gets an aerobic workout as she supplies all sorts of sounds to punctuate the proceedings. Although the music is often splashy, it never becomes merely flashy; it remains music, not just a succession of spectacular sounds.
The sound quality is excellent, with plenty of impact but no exaggeration. At the low Naxos price, this disc is one that you simply do not want to pass up.