Notes and Editorial Reviews
In ‘This Land Sings,’ Grammy Award-winning composer Michael Daugherty has created an original musical tribute to the singer-songwriter and political activist Woody Guthrie (1912-1967). Traveling the backroads of America from coast to coast with a guitar and harmonica, Woody Guthrie performed folk songs of love, wandering and social justice during the Great Depression and the Second World War. Daugherty has composed his own original songs and instrumental interludes that give haunting expression, ironic wit and contemporary relevance to political, social and environmental themes from Guthrie’s era. Under the baton of Grammy Award-winning conductor David Alan Miller, the Albany Symphony’s new music ensemble Dogs of Desire, joined by soprano Annika Socolofsky and baritone John Daugherty, give a poignant and rousing performance.
For the most part, Daugherty doesn’t set Guthrie’s tunes at all, although This Land Is Your Land turns up in a couple of numbers. Instead, he writes words of his own and draws on texts from elsewhere in the progressive strain of thought, dating back to Mark Twain, that animated Guthrie’s production. It all adds up to something quite unlike anything anybody else has done before. Listeners are going to have their own reactions, but this is original stuff, ideally and flexibly performed.
– AllMusic Guide (James Manheim)
Michael Daugherty traveled around the dust bowl of the United States before commencing the work, savoring the backdrop to Guthrie’s life as a writer and performer. It has resulted in an overture and sixteen vocal and instrumental tracks, the words for the songs written mostly by Daugherty. They are funny; they question life and our existence; suffering and love, all expressed in a mix of classical, folk, and jazzy rhythms. It is certainly a different experience that takes the composer down a new road, particularly so in the early part of the score. The excellent punchy sound is ideal for the work. Do listen to it.
– David''s Review Corner (David Denton)