Daugherty has double premiere at Lincoln Center(May 2006)
Daugherty has double premiere with Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
On May 5 and 7 at Alice Tully Hall, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center performs a pair of new pieces from Michael Daugherty: Ladder to the Moon, heard in its world premiere, and Diamond in the Rough, making its New York debut.
Ladder to the Moon is a two-movement chamber work inspired by Georgia O'Keeffe’s paintings of urban landscapes; commissioned by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, it is scored for solo violin (played by Ida Kavafian), winds, percussion, and double bass. Diamond in the Rough is Daugherty’s tribute to Mozart, premiered by Da Camera of Houston on the composer’s actual 250th anniversary: January 27, 2006. It is scored for violin, viola (like Mozart’s Symphonia Concertante) and percussion, including two tuned crystal glasses filled with water.
Says Daugherty, "Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1968) lived and painted in Manhattan before moving to New Mexico in 1934. From 1925-30, O’Keeffe created over twenty New York paintings of newly constructed skyscrapers, such as the Radiator Building and the Shelton Hotel. Like experimental photographers of the era, such as Alfred Stieglitz, O’Keeffe discovered a different reality in the form of skyscrapers, simultaneously realistic and abstract. Although Stieglitz (her husband at the time) claimed it was ‘an impossible idea’ for a woman to paint New York, O’Keeffe went on to create some of her finest work during this time, motivated by her own conviction that ‘one can’t paint New York as it is, but rather as it is felt.’ Ladder to the Moon is a musical tribute to the art of O’Keeffe, recreating the feeling of skyscrapers and cityscapes in Manhattan of the 1930’s.
"The first movement, Night, New York, is my musical perspective on skyscrapers as seen by O’Keeffe from an elevated height in New York at night: she often painted from her high-rise apartment on the thirtieth floor of the Shelton Hotel. Like her paintings, which featured only one or two buildings in the calm of the night, the music of this movement is intimate. Soulful woodwind melodies rise in dark soaring spirals to evoke a nocturnal view. A violin plays repeated pizzicato (plucked) and arco (bowed) patterns, providing a counterpoint like the visual rhythm of hundreds of brightly-lit windows on a skyscraper seen from afar."
"Looking Up offers another musical perspective on skyscrapers, as seen from below. In 1927 O’Keeffe painted the Radiator Building, looking from the ground up and leading the eye upward on a ladder of vision. In this movement I have composed a ladder of sound, featuring virtuosic and expressive music for the violin in ascending vertical lines. Meanwhile the ensemble is structured in complex light and dark patterns, like the moon reflecting off the side of a building. A reflective slow section features tremolo violin, double bass harmonics, bowed vibraphone, and musical flights of fancy heard in the clarinet and horn. All instruments combine to suggest the rising spirit of the American skyscraper: an inspiring flight heavenward."
A different sound world informs Diamond in the Rough. Says Daugherty, "Diamond in the Rough is inspired by the multifaceted music of Mozart, a composer whose life, like a diamond, reflects and refracts many stories and myths. In the first movement, Magic, complex rhythms and unusual orchestrations create different angles on Papageno's glockenspiel heard in The Magic Flute. Crystal glasses resonate in the second movement, Fifty-Five Minutes Past Midnight, echoing the exact time of Mozart’s mysterious death on December 5, 1791. The last movement, Wig Dance, mirrors the image of Mozart as an avid partygoer who once remarked he preferred ‘the art of dancing rather than music.’" Reviewing the work’s premiere, the Houston Chronicle lauded Daugherty’s "cheeky blend of pop culture and sophisticated composition."
photo: Grant Leighton
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