In the same auditorium 19 years ago Dr. Koussevitzky had led the first performance of Brooklyn-born Aaron Copland's raucous Jazz Concerto. On that evening Bostonians had hissed; some had laughed out loud; some had accused Dr. Koussevitzky of insulting them.* In those days, Aaron Copland was the kind of cacophonous enfant terrible in the U.S. that Igor Stravinsky had once been in Paris. If audiences were no longer disturbed by these terrible children, it was for different reasons. Igor Stravinsky had waited for the public ear to become attuned to his jazzy dissonances. Aaron Copland had modified his harmonies to please the public.
If 45-year-old Copland could be considered the top U.S. composer, the small stature of his colleagues had something to do with it. His technical competence far outshone his inventiveness. His first popular success, El Salon Mexico (1936), was full of Mexican folk tunes. He borrowed folk and hymn themes for his ballet scores (Billy the Kid, Appalachian Spring) and his movie music (Our Town). The Third Symphony, which Boston heard last week, varied from tenderness to brassy choirs which led a Boston Post critic to call it "Shostakovich in the Appalachians."
More often than he borrowed from others, Aaron Copland has borrowed from himself. The Third's opening movement uses a tonal device from Appalachian Spring (1944); the fourth movement intricately develops the theme of Fanfare for the Common Man (1942). Yet there was enough original music in the Third's 40 minutes, and so skilled a reworking of the old, that it would undoubtedly add to Aaron Copland's popularity—a kind of popularity that seemed to keep him too busy to be a great composer.
From TIME Magazine, Monday, Oct. 28, 1946
This most popular of Copland's symphonies---from whose final movement Fanfare for the Common Man was later excerpted---is represented by only four recordings, of which Yoel Levi's is by far the best: meditative, earnest, sumptuous, and overwhelming by turns, this is a definitive performance. As is Telarc's recording, not nearly as too-much-of-a-good-thing as usual: the bass drum in the Fanfare section is accurately stupendous. Squarely in the "stellar" category. Igor Kipnis
The companion piece on this disc is another recording of Music For The Theater, a more complete background of which is forthcoming.
1. Molto moderato, with simple expression 10:33
2. Allegro molto 09:15
3. Andantino quasi allegretto 10:33
4. Molto deliberato, freely at first 13:30
Music for the Theatre, Suite For Small Orchestra (1925)
5. Prologue 05:59
6. Dance 03:27
7. Interlude 05:14
8. Burlesque 03:08
9. Epilogue 03:45
Recorded in Symphony Hall, Atlanta GA USA on February 18-19 & April 14-18, 1989