Friday, May 16, 2008


Two of the pieces on this splendid collection received their premier recordings: the ballet scores Grohg and Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Both are rich, rigorous works and are wonderfully interpreted by these first-tier orchestras under the direction of Oliver Knussen. The third piece, Prelude For Chamber Orchestra, is actually Copland's rearrangement of his Organ Symphony's first movement. Scoredaddy

This music is hardly recognizable as that of America's greatest composer of ballet music. These are very early works of a composer fresh from Europe and from studying under Nadia Boulanger, who taught Copland to rely on folk sources for his music. This, for Copland, meant jazz. Grohg (written in 1922-25, revised in 1935) was Copland's first orchestral work, inspired by the German film Nosferatu, about a sorcerer bringing corpses alive to dance for his pleasure. If the only Copland you're interested in is the one who wrote Appalachian Spring, then this isn't for you. Still, the music is engaging and instructive. Paul Cook

Grohg - Ballet in One act (1922-25, revised 1932)
1. Introduction, Cortège and Entrance of Grohg 7:40
2. Dance of the Adolescent 6:27
4. Dance of the Streetwalker 3:42
5. Grohg imagines the Dead are mocking him 4:41
6. Illumination and Disappearance of Grohg 1:59

7. Prelude for chamber orchestra 6:04 (1924, arranged 1934)

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! - Ballet in One act (1934, version for small orchestra, 1935)
8. Scene i (Prelude) 1:36
9. Scenes ii-iv (The Courtroom; Dance of the Prosecuting Attorney; Danse of the Defense Attorney; Quarrel) 4:48
10. Scene v (The Nightclub hostess sworn in) 0:47
11. Scene vi (The Chorus-girls' first dance) 3:31
12. Scene vii (First Pas-de-deux) 2:49
13. Scene viii (Pas-de-deux continued; First murder) 2:54
14. Scenes ix-x (The Courtroom); The Noneymoon Couple sworn in) 1:30
15. Scene xi (The Chorus-girls' dance with doves) 2:18
16. Scene xii (Second Pas-de-deux with murder) 3:45
17. Scenes xiii-xiv (The Courtroom; the Waiter is sworn in) 1:24
18. Scene xv (The Chorus-girls' third dance) 1:29
19. Scene xvi (Third Pas-de-deux and Murder) 3:24
20. Scenes xvii-xviii (The Verdict; The Courtroom) 1:57

Grohg performed by the Cleveland Orchestra ; other selections performed by the London Sinfonietta. All works conducted by Oliver Knussen.

Grohg was recorded in Severance Hall, Cleveland, Ohio on May 3, 1993. Other selections were recorded in Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK on June 29-30, 1993