Tuesday, November 10, 2009


This beautiful disc is a gift contribution from my good friend Southview212. For this I thank him sincerely. Scoredaddy

The Nyaho/Garcia Duo is committed to performing music of composers of African or Hispanic heritage, as well works of contemporary, American and women composers. The Duo has a recording to its credit as well: Aaron Copland: Music for Two Pianos, Centaur 2405 (1998). The tracks include El Salon México, Rodeo selections, Dance of the Adolescent, Danza de Jalisco, Variations on a Shaker Melody, Danzon Cubano and Billy the Kid (arranged from suite from the ballet). Nyaho's Web site has this to say of the CD:

In November 1998, Nyaho and Garcia released their first compact disc recording of the complete transcriptions of Aaron Copland for two pianos for Centaur Records. Classical Magazine wrote then that the duo, "form a perfect match in their style of playing, their tone, and in their genuine feeling for and understanding of the Copland pieces... This CD will be the standard against which any futures performances of these dances will be measured."

1. El Salon Mexico (arr. Bernstein)

Two Movements from Rodeo (arr. Gold & Fizdale)
2. Hoe-down
3. Saturday Night Waltz

4. Grohg: Dance of the Adolescent
5. Danza de Jalisco
6. Variations on a Shaker Melody (arr. Lerner)
7. Danzon Cubano

Billy the Kid: Suite
8. The Open Prairie
9. Street In A Frontier Town
10. Billy and His Sweetheart
11. Celebration and Billy’s Capture
12. Billy’s Demise
13. The Open Prairie Again

William Chapman Nyaho & Susanna Garcia (pianos)
Recorded August 6 & 7, 1997 at LSU Recital Hall, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisisana

Monday, November 2, 2009


Again, I would like to express my appreciation to Mr Jansons for being kind enough to let me post his rip of these important recordings. Scoredaddy

Until Copland came along there wasn’t really a truly American sound in concert music; we had jazz of course but that was a different thing. Most of the leading American composers had been trained in Germany and that was the prevailing musical culture. Aaron Copland changed all that, and two of his most American-sounding works are beautifully performed on the first of these discs as conducted by the composer himself.

The Billy the Kid music sounds like it could be from a Western movie. The big attraction for audiophiles has long been the movement Gun Battle. The various tympani and bass drum put on quite a fire fight. The Third Symphony is full of that special American quality which Copland originated and has been copied by so many film composers. It is miles beyond the simple quoting of folk tunes such as Dvorak and Brahms did. John Sunier

The overuse of the word “cult” has recently taken on inflationary proportions – but sometimes it is totally justified: such as for the recordings on the American Everest label. Founded in 1958 by sound engineer Bert Whyte, it created recordings that ranked as trend-setters whenever they were released. Regrettably, two years later they gave up on recording classical music; the LP’s, however, continued to retain their valid reputation as cult objects for collectors for decades to come – not least for the author of these lines, for whom, back in his youth, these discs with their characteristically colorful cover illustrations represented an introduction to the fascinating world of North American and Latin American orchestral music.

Up until now, Everest releases were only briefly available. Fortunately this situation has now changed: one CD from the Everest package deserves a more thoroughgoing consideration: Aaron Copland’s exemplary conducting of his own Symphony No. 3 and the suite from the ballet “Billy the Kid”. Here he avoids a fundamental error to which even authentic Copland specialists like Leonard Bernstein occasionally succumbed: gussying up the music with additional pathos. This can have fatal consequences – especially in the Symphony. The apotheosis of the finale comes across as exaggerated, overstated, cascades of cymbal crashes and tam-tam fireworks threaten to undermine the actual substance of the work. Copland, on the other hand, maintains a tight rein on his own music and keeps all the bombast remains under control. The build-up of tension in the first movement (the strongest section of the symphony) could not have been better realized. In his later recording of this opus for Columbia he failed to reach the formal overview, combined with the rhythmic attack with the same precision he achieved here.

In “Billy the Kid” as well, he limits himself to an unemotional, yet no less extremely transparent and color-intense realization of the score. If we add to this circumstance the fact that the sound image of the orchestra, even for the time this recording was made – probably 1959, but precise information is not available in the booklet – was downright phenomenal in terms of clarity and sharp contours, so that we can refer to this as a true reference recording. Anyone who knows nothing of Copland and is curious about his music should really pick up this CD. Thomas Schulz

Billy The Kid - Ballet Suite (1942)
1. The Open Prairie
2. Street in a Frontier Town
3. Card Game At Night
4. Gun Battle
5. Celebration: After Billy’s Capture
6. Epilogue: The Open Prairie Again

Third Symphony (1944-46)
7. I Molto Moderato
8. II Allegro Molto
9. III Andantino quasi allegrett0
10. IV Molto deliberato: Allegro risoluto

London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Aaron Copland in 1958.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I want to extend a sincere and grateful THANK YOU to Mr. Jansons, who was kind enough to allow this post of his rip!! THANK YOU MR. JANSONS. Scoredaddy

According to Virgil Thompson, jazz was Aaron Copland’s “one wild oat”. Maybe, but he sowed it with a will – and others reaped. Page after page of Music for the Theatre and its first cousin, the 1926 Piano Concerto, featured here, read like the blueprints for symphonic dance to come. Bernstein’s On the Town began here. Concert jazz with attitude, sinewy, street-smart, strident, dislocated, blowsy, bumping, grinding, shimmying like everyone’s sister Kate. But Copland arrived first, and middle America (which had mentally drawn a line under Gershwin in that regard) was taken aback – temporarily. An erstwhile succes de scandale became ‘the best roar from the roaring twenties’.

Well, at least one audacious enough to subdue the MGM lion on the opening gambit stakes. It’s a corker, this opening. A bold proclamation passed between trumpets and trombones, a ‘fanfare for...’; but before you can finish the sentence, a dramatic cut to the wide shot: a glorious lyric effusion, its sights set on yet another gleaming skyline. Brave new world or lonely town? The quizzical solo piano isn’t entirely sure, but the yearning grows: rhapsody in blue. Aren’t they all? But as muted clarinets take us in deeper, and deeper, the piano player shucks the cigarette, flicks the wrist, mindful of something snappy; snappy, as in fractured and slightly tipsy. Garrick Ohlsson kicks into this rhythm-bending mood-swing with terrific aplomb, and the San Francisco Symphony stretch every sinew to get their long limbs co-ordinated. Tilson Thomas has them well blooded in the ways of this music: it’s slick, it’s tight, but it still retains that sense of wilful precariousness. One last view of the skyline, and it’s all over.

Copland, ‘the modernist’, alludes to skylines a great deal here. The word ‘sheer’ is always springing to mind – long, tall brilliance; shining surfaces, all height and angularity. It’s hard to imagine that the Orchestral Variations were ever laid down in anything but orchestral terms, their sonority and harmony stretched from top to bottom of the score in spare, spacey chords. Copland’s very particular brand of rhetoric. And then you remember that in its ground-breaking piano original it was as if the keyboard itself had been surrealistically elongated. It has the look of a modern metropolis in sound, this music: lean, clean, oblique. Why, even the beautiful and remote slow movement of the Short Symphony is rural Copland with inner-city tensions.

But let me direct you to the tallest of these particular edifices – because I honestly don’t anticipate a better view of it. Symphonic Ode – Copland’s first big orchestral piece after the Piano Concerto – proceeds onwards and upwards in sky-scraping, octave-leaping tower blocks of sound. It’s so very much a young man’s America, alternately monolithic and toughly contrapuntal. A jazzy hint of misbegotten adolescence, a reflective heart – with solo oboe (exquisitely attended here) lending a refinement so well nursed by Nadia Boulanger – and a tremendous conclusion as proud and implacable as the US Constitution itself. A couple of sensational modulations, and MTT’s San Francisco horns are quite literally reaching for the sky. Because there is no place to go but up. The performance knows just how good it is – and that’s a fact. Deep-set, blockbusting recording. A winner.' Edward Seckerson

Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (1926)
1. Andante sustention 7:32
2. Molto moderato; Allegro assai 9:27
Garrick Ohlsson, piano

3. Orchestral Variations (1957) 13:39

Short Symphony (Symphony No. 2) (1932/33)
4. Incisivo 4:33
5. Espressivo 5:01
6. Preciso e ritmico 5:52

7. Symphonic Ode (1928/29) 20:16

San Francisco Symphony conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas
Recorded June 25, 1996 at Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, CA, USA

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


The three volumes in the “Copland Celebration” series are only available separately so you can pick and choose. Dedicated Coplanders will want all of them. Sony, who have come in for considerable stick in some quarters, have here done a regal job. Design is consistent across the three sets. The market placement is astute at mid-price. The 2 CD sets are in slimline cases.

The great attraction of these sets is the harvest of previously CD-unavailable tapes. The following receive their first CD release here (speaking of the entire three-volume series): Nonet, Vitebsk, Piano Quartet, Lincoln Portrait, Dickinson Poems (both Addison and Lipton), Old American Songs, Tender Land, In the Beginning, Dark, Nonet, Copland rehearsing Appalachian Spring. The two Billy extracts played by Oscar Levant appear for the first time on any commercial medium.

The sets were issued in Copland centenary year (2000) and merit attention here. The age of the tapes varies from 1959 to 1971 with many falling in the 1960s. The only monos are the Martha Lipton Dickinson Poems, the Warfield American Songs, the Levant Billy excerpts. These are all ADD and the sound quality is good to excellent.

Discographical documentation is good and background notes (in English only) are by Copland biographer, Howard Pollack. An obvious though hardly damning demerit is that none of the words are printed. The booklet for each set is liberally sprinkled with facsimiles of concert fliers and programme notes as well as some very natural on the fly photographs.

Though eclipsed in hifi terms there is still plenty of bass and fibrous pith in the LSO version of the Fanfare. The boozy Arnold-like Copland is evident from the second of the Rodeo dance episodes which also chimes in well with The American Songs. His orchestration which blossomed under the tutelage of Nadia Boulanger is pristine, Gallic in its transparency but American in every other way. I wasn't sure whether the LSO were quite on top of things in the final dance but otherwise things go with a swing and with galloping élan. Stravinsky scores were amongst those studied by Copland during his Parisian years and certainly The Rite surfaces with unmistakable identity throughout the orchestral works - try The Open Prairie in Billy The Kid. When that music returns at the end it has the atmosphere of a tragic scrolling effect - extremely cinematic. Playing is pointed and precise - a great orchestra in their finest confident form.

El Salon lacks the out and out zip and shudder of Bernstein's version however the accenting is sharper in the composer's version. The NYPO are probably more at home in this music and the NPO trumpets seem not completely inside the idiom by comparison with Bernstein's band. The LSO manage things more naturally with Danzon Cubano. Quiet City - that hymn to metropolitan solitude has never quite been matched in the case of this Copland version.

Appalachian Spring is a hallmark work in Copland's catalogue. Its qualities are exposed to even greater effect in its original chamber garb. A cool innocence allied of music keyed into vernal winds, rustic playfulness and the landscape. Some may miss the opulence of a full orchestra but the compensations in terms of diaphanous sounds and a glowing soundscape more than compensate. Tight rhythmic control push things along with real zing. Somehow the fact that this represents the score as it would have sounded when it was danced by the Martha Graham troupe in the murderous 1940s seems only a makeweight. Hearing the complete ballet underlines who used we have become to the orchestral suite - tracks 8, 11 and 12 seems stylistically anomalous now - rather slow, a trifle slower and Molto allegro ed agitato. The fifteen instruments are six violins, two violas, two cellos, double bass, flute, clarinet, bassoon and piano. Paul Jacobs was the pianist in this 1973 recording. We take with this more than 17 minutes of rehearsal which illustrates the care with which Copland laboured at the creation of that slender web of sound and zappy attack. Copland's direction is firm, specific but always respectful of the musicians. The sequence is not continuous with sections faded down and then faded up.

The Nonet for strings is a quite unfamiliar work. It oscillates between the poles of Bach, Tippett and neo-classicism. A no-holds-barred performance with plenty of gutsy playing compromised by 1962 sound only to the extent that it lends an unforgiving edge to the strings at forte and above. Rob Barnett


1. Fanfare for the Common Man (1942) 3:16
LSO, Walthamstow, UK 26-29 Oct 1968

Rodeo (1942)
2. I. Buckaroo Holiday 7:47
3. II. Corral Nocturne 3:50
4. III. Saturday Night Waltz 4:44
5. IV. Hoe-Down 3:33
LSO, Walthamstow, UK 26 Oct 1968

Billy The Kid (1942)
6. Introduction: The Open Prairie 3:21
7. Street in a Frontier Town 6:26
8. Card Game at Night (Prairie Night) 3:45
9. Gun Battle 2:03
10. Celebration Dance (after Billy’s Capture) 2:15
11. Billy’s Death 1:28
12. The Open Prairie Again 1:45
LSO, Walthamstow, UK Nov 1969

13. El Salon Mexico (1936) 11:27
New Philharmonia, EMI Studios, London UK 31 May 1972

14. Danzon Cubano (1942)
LSO, EMI Studios, London UK 9-10 Nov 1970

15. Quiet City (1939) 9:49
William Lang (trumpet)/Michael Winfield (English Horn)/LSO, Walthamstow, UK 6 Nov 1969

16. Down a Country Lane (1965)
LSO, Walthamstow, UK 26 Oct 1968

Appalachian Spring (original chamber version) (1945)
1. Very Slowly 2:44
2. Allegro 2:49
3. Moderato 3:28
4. Fast 3:25
5. Subito Allegro 2:57
6. Menos Mosso 1:58
7. Doopio movimento 2:23
8. Rather slow 1:25
9. Very deliberate 2:44
10. Poco piu mosso 1:01
11. A trifle slower 0:24
12. Molto Allegro ed agitato 3:09
13. Broadly 0:33
14. Moderato (like a prayer) 3:18
Columbia Chamber Ensemble/Columbia Studios, NYC 9-11 May 1973

Nonet (1960)
15. Slow and solemn 5:39
16. Ritmico ed un poco marcato 6:48
17. Temp as at first 5:01
Columbia String Ensemble/ 799, 7th Ave, NYC, 6 Apr 1962

18. Copland rehearses Appalachian Spring. 17:12
Columbia Studios, NYC 6 April 1962

Monday, September 21, 2009


The Copland known to most people is the composer of scores such as El Salón México, Rodeo, Appalachian Spring, and the Third Symphony--in short, of the popular, approachably folksy works of the years 1936 to 1946. But what about the music Copland wrote before these defining pieces? Some would say it's even more important, having served to open the door, as Virgil Thomson rightly observed, to "the voice of America in our generation."

The four works on this disc show that Copland was Copland--a powerful, provocative, original, and energetic musical personality--before he was "Copland." The daring Organ Symphony of 1924, the same year as Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, sounds at least 20 years ahead of its time. The Dance Symphony, from 1929 (but based on material from Copland's 1922 ballet, Grohg), is permeated by the aroma of French modernism and full of the spiky grotesqueries of Stravinsky and Bartók, yet it's got a jazzy swagger that's distinctively ... Copland. Ditto for the Short Symphony of 1933, rhythmically one of the most boisterous pieces Copland ever wrote.

Even the one work that appears to be "later" Copland--the Orchestral Variations of 1957--is actually from the same youthful vintage as the symphonies. It's Copland's orchestration of his epoch-making 1930 Piano Variations, among the most powerful utterances in the history of American music. Seventy years later, the force of the musical ideas in this piece still takes listeners' breath away, and reminds us it was no accident that Copland has come to be regarded as America's greatest composer. Leonard Slatkin and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra play the spots off all the music on this CD, and the sound is superlative. Ted Libbey

Symphony For Organ and Orchestra (1924)
1. Andante 6:02
2. Scherzo 7:21
3. Finale: Lento 10:03
Simon Preston , organ

Dance Symphony (1929)
4. Intro: Lento, Molto Allegro 6:37
5. Adante Moderato 4:40
6. Allegro Vivo 4:51

Short Symphony (Symphony No. 2) (1932-33)
7. Incisivo 4:07
8. Espressivo 4:56
9. Presto E Ritmico 5:36

10. Orchestral Variations (1957) 12:36

St Louis Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin
Recorded September 21, 1993 at Christ Church Cathedral, St Louis, MO (#1-3); February 17&18, 1995 (#4-9) & May 9, 1995 (#10)at Powell Symphony Hall, St Louis, MO USA

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Carl Sandburg only appears on about 14 minutes of this mid-priced two-CD set, but it's a very important 14 minutes in terms of his artistry and career. The poet/singer's four-decade association with Abraham Lincoln culminated on record in 1958 with his recording of Aaron Copland's "A Lincoln Portrait" with the New York Philharmonic under the baton of the man who commissioned the work, Andre Kostelanetz.

Sandburg's relationship to the piece went back 15 years, though he did not narrate it at its debut, but nobody ever narrated it better on record -- Sandburg quotes the lines drawn from Lincoln's speeches as though they're his, and his utterance of the framing narrative is done with the gentleness of someone who seems to have known the man, and knew the sadness of losing him; when he speaks on Lincoln being a quiet and a melancholy man, he does it as if he were describing a much-mourned friend, with all of the depth that implied in that description.

It's an illusion, but a successful one and totally natural, from a non-actor. Sandburg's voice has a natural fragility that is extraordinary in a recording like this, and separates him from the work of Henry Fonda and most other actors who have recorded this piece. The Philharmonic never played the piece with more feeling, and the recording quality is excellent. Bruce Eder

This second Copland collection focuses on unique talents of veteran performers. William Warfield lends his voice and his interpretations of Copland's Old American Songs, and he sings them as they were meant to be, not as classical diletantes felt they should be. You have authenticity here.

Martha Lipton likewise contributes an older world charm and charisma to Copland's settings for Emily Dickenson's words. Carl Sandberg's resonant reading of his own words is worth the full price of this set. And then the inimitable Oscar Levant's piano treatment of the orchestral pieces...Levant had a wry touch to his interpretations that gave him a voice all his own.
There's much more here, quite a bit that's less than familiar and therefore increases one's familiarity with Copland. Neal C. Reynolds

1. Vitebsk, Study On A Jewish Theme (1929)
Aaron Copland (piano)
Earl Carlyss (violin)
Claus Adam (cello)
Recorded at Columbia Records 30th Street Studio, New York City, NY on October 28, 1966

Sextet For Clarinet, Piano And String Quartet (1937)

2. I. Allegro vivace
3. II. Lento
4. III. Finale
Aaron Copland (piano)
Harold Wright (clarinet)
Julliard String Quartet:
Robert Mann (violin)
Raphael Hiller (viola)
Earl Carlyss (violin)
Claus Adam (cello)
Recorded at Columbia Records 30th Street Studio, New York City, NY on October 27, 1966

Piano Quartet (1950)
5. I. Adagio serio
6. II. Allegro giusto
7. III. Non troppo lento
Aaron Copland (piano)
Robert Mann (violin)
Raphael Hiller (viola)
Claus Adam (cello)
Recorded at Columbia Records 30th Street Studio, New York City, NY on October 28, 1966

Duo For Flute And Piano (1970-71)
8. I. Flowing
9. II. Poetic, Somewhat Mournful
10. III. Lively, With Bounce
Aaron Copland (piano)
Elaine Shaffer (flute)
Recorded at Columbia Records 30th Street Studio on December 11&14, 1972

1. Lincoln Portrait (1942)
The New York Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Andre Kostelanetz.
Carl Sandburg (narrator)
Recorded in New York City, NY on March 16, 1958

Twelve Poems Of Emily Dickinson (1949-50)
2. I. Nature, The Greatest Mother
3. II. There Came A Wind Like A Bugle
4. III. Why Do They Shut Me Out Of Heaven?
5. The World Feels Dusty
6. V. Heart, We Will Forget Him
7. VI. Dear March, Come In!
8. VII. Sleep Is Supposed To Be
9. VIII. When They Come Back
10. IX. I Felt A Funeral In My Brain
11. X. I've Heard An Organ Talk Sometimes
12. XI. Going To Heaven!
13. XII. The Chariot
Martha Lipton (voice)
Aaron Copland (piano)
Recorded at Columbia Records 30th Street Studio, New York City, NY on December 22, 1950 and April 4, 1952

Old American Songs -Set 1 (1950)
14. The Boatmen's Dance (Minstrel Song, 1843)
15. The Dodger (Campaign Song)
16. Long Time Ago
17. Simple Gifts (Shaker Song)
18. I Bought Me A Cat
Old American Songs -Set 2 (1952)
19. The Little Horses (Lullaby)
20. Zion's Walls (Revivalist Song)
21. The Golden Willow Tree
22. At The River (Hymn Tune)
23. Ching-A-Ring Chaw (Minstrel Song)
William Warfield (voice)
Aaron Copland (piano)
Recorded at Columbia Records 30th Street Studio, New York City, NY on August 16, 1951 (Set 1) and August 18, 1953 (Set 2)

Billy The Kid (1938) arr. for solo piano
24. I. The Open Prairie
25. II. Street In A Frontier Town
26. V. Celebration Dance (After Billy's Capture)
Oscar Levant (piano)
Recorded at Columbia Records 30th Street Studio, New York City, NY on September 1, 1949

Friday, September 11, 2009


As the review below mentions, this CD soundtrack for a Spike Lee film acts as sort of Copland’s Greatest Hits and all the selections within are also available in the various composer-conducted collections that you can find in the pages of this blog. However, we do have one “new” item on this CD, and that is the reason for this posting. This disc includes the wonderful “Lincoln Portrait”, for the first time ever (to my knowledge) WITHOUT narration! The text that Copland selected for this stirring piece is essential to its very being… but, it is indeed fascinating to hear the music alone: quite beautiful and majestic. This is an excellent sampler for those who wish to quickly experience the most popular music Copland wrote in his most mainstream Americana manner. Scoredaddy

Director Spike Lee states, "When I listen to Aaron Copland's music, I hear America, and basketball is America." That may be far-fetched for those who saw Lee's film, especially when the only other music in the film was that of Public Enemy. On its own, though, this album is a welcome "greatest hits" collection of Copland's Americana. The CD and the movie start off with John Henry, a slow-building, beguiling melody that works effortlessly with Lee's montage of basketball images. More spirited numbers such as "Hoe-Down" from Rodeo and Fanfare for the Common Man are also featured on the soundtrack. Unlike many Copland compilation CDs, this collection features abridged selections, allowing for more variety of source material: symphonies, soundtracks from movies (Of Mice and Men, Our Town), and ballets. Maybe not the CD for the purist, but a welcome first album for those who were introduced to Copland's music by the film. At over 60 minutes, it's a worthwhile investment. Doug Thomas

1. John Henry (04:00)

Appalachian Spring
2. Very Slowly (02:45)
3. Calm and Flowing (Shaker melody) (03:11)
4. Moderato, Coda (03:24)

5. "Hoe-Down" From Rodeo (03:33)
6. Lincoln Portrait (without narration) (15:06)
7. "Interlude" From Music For The Theatre (05:24)
8. Fanfare For The Common Man (03:16)
9. "Pas De Trois" From Dance Panels (04:05)
10. Letter From Home (07:23)
11. "Grover's Corner" From Our Town (03:13)

Billy The Kid
12. The Open Prairie (03:21)
13. The Open Prairie Again (01:46)

Aaron Copland conducting The London Symphony Orchestra except #7 Leonard Bernstein conducting The New York Philharmonic

Total Duration: 01:00:27

Monday, September 7, 2009


Arguably the best American symphony coupled with arguably the best-known American symphony makes an ideal pairing on paper. Sad to report, however, I have considerable reservations. Roy Harris‘s Third is one of the most awesomely concentrated of all twentieth-century symphonic structures, but you wouldn‘t guess it from Neeme Jãrvi’s loose-limbed, disconcertingly slack conception. As the opening few minutes quickly reveal, the orchestral playing is neat but cruelly lacks bite and tension. Where’s the sense of tingling expectancy in these measures, the feeling of setting out on some fantastic musical voyage? Whither the bite of fortissimo trombones and horns on their first appearance? And whatever happened to the burgeoning lyricism of the pages that follow? In the central portion (so potently suggestive of the vast horizons of the prairies and their fields of rippling wheat) Jarvi opens out the two small cuts practised by Koussevitzky and Bernstein, but given the disinterested nature of the musicmaking, the restoration of these extra bars is not necessarily a boon. And so it goes on. The tremendous fugue barely gets off the ground, generating none of the volcanic power and implacable momentum so evident in the two Bernstein accounts (CBS, 6/76 and DG, 11/87 — both nla) and Koussevitzky’s fabulous 1939 Boston reading, while Jarvi’s brusquely impatient handling of the tolling peroration merely gives the impression that session-time was running out (and why the sudden, ugly lurch forward in tempo at the beginning of this section?). All in all, the performance is a bitter disappointment, to say the least.

Copland‘s mighty Third fares more happily, but I‘m still far from convinced that Jarvi really has this repertoire well and truly in his bloodstream. For all the agreeable security of the orchestral response, I don‘t register any especial dedication or inspirational sense of occasion about proceedings. Indeed, a certain literalness and “let‘s get on with it“ efficiency tend to scupper large portions of the symphony‘s first half; the searching string dialogue with which the slow movement opens also lacks the last ounce of eloquence (and, at the very start, the necessary icy hush). That said, Jarvi rises capably enough to the big and brazen ‘public‘ gestures of the finale, and the Chandos sound is predictably alluring in its transparent sumptuousness. In the end, though, it all boils down to conviction, the kind of extraordinary commitment to the cause that Bernstein and his New Yorkers display on their electrifying 1985 DG version; the relative dearth of those self-same qualities in Detroit is what ultimately relegates this latest account to the also-rans. AA

Roy Harris: Symphony No. 3 (1939)
1. I. Con moto: quarter note = 84 [Tragic] — - 2:06
2. II. half note = 72-80 [Lyric] — - 1:20
3. III. Poco piu mosso: half note = 94-104 [Pastoral] — - 6:27
4. IV. half note = 112 [Fugue - Dramatic] — - 3:26
5. V. Con moto: whole note = 66-72 [Dramatic - Tragic] - 3:09

Aaron Copland: Symphony No. 3 (1944-46)
6. I. Molto moderato - with simple expression - 9:41
7. II. Allegro molto - 8:00
8. III. Andantino quasi allegretto - 9:30
9. IV. Molto deliberato - 13:26

Detroit Symphony Orchestra conducted by Neeme Jarvi
Recorded at Orchestra Hall, Detroit, Michigan USA on 1-2 October 1995

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Late in his career, Leonard Bernstein returned to the greatest orchestral work by his lifelong friend, Aaron Copland, with a performance that eclipsed all others, including Bernstein's own previous recording of the Symphony no. 3 on Sony. Though Copland's stock still hadn't climbed back to its present height, Bernstein gave the music a grandeur that made you forget how much of a cliché the Fanfare for the Common Man--which was worked into the finale of the Third--can be. In fact, many of the world-stopping qualities Bernstein brought to his second Mahler cycle for Deutsche Grammophon seem much in evidence here, with the New York Philharmonic playing as though its collective life depended on it. David Patrick Stearns

Did they love each other? Did they hate each other? Did they respect each other? Yes, all of the above and apparently all at the same time. Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein were without a doubt the two most popular American composers of serious music in the twentieth century -- Gershwin's music is too much fun to be serious -- and their relationship was long and deep and filled with so many conflicting emotions as to be almost beyond comprehension, much less explication. But one thing is sure: Bernstein's recordings of Copland's music are almost unbearably exciting. His 1986 recording of Copland's Symphony No. 3 with the New York Philharmonic is the most intensely expressive and overwhelmingly emotional performance of the work ever recorded. Bernstein's conducting is ecstatically lyrical, deeply dramatic, profoundly rhetorical, and so massively monumental that the music itself all but disappears. Indeed, Bernstein's Copland's Third might sound to some listeners too much like Bernstein's Third -- a little restraint and a soupçon of dignity might not have been out of place -- but there's no denying the effectiveness of Bernstein's conducting. The New York Philharmonic plays with power, precision, and panache. Deutsche Grammophon's early digital sound is big and loud, but a bit empty. James Leonard

Symphony No. 3 (1944-46)
1. I. Molto moderato (11:01)
2. II. Allegro molto (8:04)
3. III. Andantino quasi allegretto (10:20)
4. IV. Molto deliberato (Fanfare) - Allegro risoluto (13:54)

5. Quiet City (1939) (10:35)

Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic
Recorded December, 1985 at Avery Fisher Hall, New York City

Thursday, July 30, 2009


I "borrowed" this post (and the links to the FLAC files) from my good friend Buster (with permission, of course). These are important, historic recordings made by the first great Copland interpreter, and Buster did a bang-up job remastering the sonics on these vintage records. I highly recommend everyone to check out his superlative and invaluable blog, BIG 10-INCH RECORD http://big10inchrecord.blogspot.com/

Here are Buster's comments from his original post:

This post is in response to a request by friend of the blog David Federman. David says he has never heard a version of Copland's Appalachian Spring to rival the first recording, by the Boston Symphony and Serge Koussevitzky. So here is that mid-40s recording for David, and I imagine many others, in a mid-50s transfer on RCA - and a pretty good one, too.This also includes Koussevitzky's 1938 first recording of El Salón México, also sounding well, if enshrouded in reverb.This pressing of Appalachian Spring had a fault toward the end of the side, so I patched in a short section from a much later Victrola pressing, which almost certainly used the same tape transfer for its master.The latter album also included the BSO/Koussevitzky version of A Lincoln Portrait, with narrator Melvyn Douglas, so I have added that to the download as a bonus. Here the sound is a little cloudier and there is more pitch instability, possibly caused by making a new disk master from an old and creaky tape transfer. I am not that fond of Douglas' histrionic approach to Lincoln. Copland's words tell us that Lincoln was "a quiet and a melancholy man," but Douglas seems to disagree. Give me Charlton Heston with Abravanel, a more monumental approach that is well suited to the stylized (and much criticized) narrative and to Copland's music.By the way, I keep wanting to spell the conductor's name with an "s" before the "k" instead of a "z," and I think I did so in the download. It's not wrong, being a transliteration, but the z-version is the more usual spelling. Buster

1. Appalachian Spring (ballet suite) 24:23
2. El Salón México 10:57
3. Lincoln Portrait (narration by Melvyn Douglas) 13:43

Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Serge Koussevitzky

Monday, June 29, 2009


The Library of Congress organised a concert to celebrate Copland’s 81st birthday in November 1981. Jan DeGaetani (1933-1990) was a staunch supporter and proponent of the contemporary repertoire and especially that of her native country – many American composers had cause to be grateful to her for her idiomatic and expressive performances. Leo Smit had worked closely with her, as well as pursuing his own polymathic interests. He was also a notable exponent of Copland’s piano music.

The recital ranged widely; piano works early (Three Moods, 1920-21) and late (Night Thoughts, 1972) and the mid period Dickinson settings, the centrepiece of the recital. To garnish the occasion still further there are some of the Old American Songs, principally the Second Set of 1952, with such old favourites emerging newly minted as Simple Gifts and At the River.

DeGaetani’s rich mezzo, well equalized throughout the scale, brings "true simplicity" to the Old American Songs, subtle in At the River (its "wrong note" pianism banishing complacency) and moving in Simple Gifts, with Smit providing the most adroitly effective of support in the rhythmically displaced piano accompaniment. He is equally convincing in the early Three Moods, originally given a French title, and according to the notes only receiving a first performance in 1981 a few months before this concert, with a dedication to Smit – though I’ve read elsewhere that Copland himself premiered them in concert at the time of their composition. The first is dissonant and fractious, the second a little glinting Debussyian affair, and the third a syncopated number with a show tune embedded in it. By way of immediate contrast Night Thoughts was composed for the 1972 Van Cliburn Piano Competition. With its widely spaced chords and slow, meditative sense of overlapping it makes an intriguing foil for the more youthfully combustible composer.

The Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson, Copland’s first major vocal work, date from 1949-50. They cover a wide variety of moods and feelings, impressions and sensibilities and Copland’s settings are ones of amplification and extension of the text whilst remaining true to the very personal idiom of the poems. Thus in the first setting, Nature the gentlest mother he hints in the piano part at the pastoral, whereas the succeeding There came a wind like bugle the bell tolling and violence of the setting mirror the text’s violent unease – with DeGaetani’s downward extension on the final words exposing their dramatic finality. In The World feels dusty Copland provides a simple rocking accompaniment, a cradle song of anticipated death - elsewhere in the cycle evoking the loss and bewilderment explicit in the settings with a kind of trenchant simplicity. Sleep is supposed to be erupts with real violence, emphasized by the coldness of the acoustic, and in I felt a funeral in my brain whilst DeGaetani starts rather backward in the balance, the funereal tread in the piano leads on to wandering tonalities in the vocal line, well conveyed here, and an increasing sense of fracture and collapse. Copland’s piano accompaniments hint, suggest, elide, now spare, now furious, all the while managing to convey the myriad suggestible implications to be gleaned from the texts.

There is a charming talk, self-deprecatory and amusing, between Copland, Smit and Donald Leavitt of The Library of Congress and a delightful encore, The Little Horses. It was a memorable concert in the Coolidge Auditorium that November in 1981. Jonathan Woolf

From Old American Songs (1950-52)
1 Zion's Walls 2:14
2 At the River 2:48
3 Simple Gifts 1:52
Voice and piano

Three Moods (1920-21)
4 Embittered 1:01
5 Wistful 2:04
6 Jazzy 1:17
Piano solo

7 Night Thoughts (1972) 8:16
Piano solo

8 Conversations With Aaron Copland 3:26
With Leo Smit and Donald L. Leavitt

9 Introduction by Jan Degaetani 1:15

Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson (1949-50)
10 Nature, the Gentlest Mother , 4:18
11 There Came a Wind Like a Bugle 1:36
12 Why Do They Shut Me Out of Heaven? 1:45
13 The World Feels Dusty 1:59
14 Heart, We Will Forget Him 2:15
15 Dear March, Come In! 2:02
16 Sleep Is Suppose to Be 3:04
17 When They Come Back 2:00
18 I Felt a Funeral in My Brain 2:29
19 I've Heard an Organ Talk Sometimes 2:07
20 Going to Heaven! 2:25
21 The Chariot 4:20

22 The Little Horses (from Old American Songs, 1952) 2:33

Jan DeGaetani, mezzo-soprano and Leo Smit, piano
Recorded at the Coolidge Auditorium of The Library of Congress 14th November 1981

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


This is a superb album, largely overlooked on its release because it falls squarely into that awkward chasm between "serious" classical music and "light" film music.

John Williams conducts Copland's Red Pony suite like film music--which of course, it is--keeping the rhythms taut and the tempi precise: the "Circus March" swaggers boisterously, the "Happy Ending" skips along exuberantly. Trumpet soloist Tim Morrison makes the most of the reflective Quiet City and reprises his appearance on Born On The Fourth Of July for Williams's concert suite, arguably a better way to experience this elegiac, pastoral and affecting music than the original soundtrack.

The Reivers, from 1969, remains one of Williams's best-loved film scores: a jaunty, nostalgic slice of early Americana presented here as an extended suite with avuncular narration by Burgess Meredith (who narrated the original movie, a little-known adaptation of a William Faulkner novel starring Steve McQueen). It's delightful music, although the spoken text occasionally seems disproportionately long.

The juxtaposition of Copland and Williams on one album allows the listener to experience two complementary facets of American music, impeccably performed by the Boston Pops and vividly recorded at Symphony Hall. Leonard Slatkin's Music For Films album, on RCA, offers an excellent alternative for anyone wanting an all-Copland disc--but the real gems on this album are the two John Williams items. Mark Walker

The Red Pony
1. Morning On The Ranch (04:41)
2. The Gift (04:58)
3. Dream March (02:30)
4. Circus March (01:55)
5. Walk To The Bunkhouse (02:49)
6. Grandfather's Tale (04:47)
7. Happy Ending (03:24)

Born of the Fourth of July
8. Theme (06:21)
9. Cua Viet River, Vietnam 1968 (03:37)
10. Massapequa...the Early Days (04:06)
Tim Morrison trumpet

11. Quiet City - for Strings, Trumpet & English Horn (10:35)
Tim Morrison , trumpet Laurence Thorstenberg, English horn

12. The Reivers (18:43)
text by William Faulkner , narrated by Burgess Meredith

Boston Pops Orchestra conducted by John Williams
Recorded at Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts on February 9-10, 1990 & November 3-5, 1991

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Another contribution by our friend Miguel:

Richard Stoltzman and Michael Tilson Thomas made an outstanding team for this recording. Stoltzman's tone is often the object of debate, but in this album, it works wonderfully. The jazz influences in all of these pieces call for a brighter, and (for lack of a better word) looser sound, which Stoltzman can pull off with flair. He does an excellent job of making the opening section of the Copland silky and dream-like.

The bravado and virtuosity in the cadenza are fitting, as is the occasional stretch or pause. It sounds almost improvised, which is what Copland was going for in this very difficult section. The orchestra (directed by Tilson Thomas) is also excellent - sparkling one moment, incisive the next.

The rest of the album is a collection of pieces by other American composers of the 20th century. "Goodbye" is an emotional memorial of Benny Goodman, the Bernstein "Sonata" is an interesting expansion of the work for clarinet and piano. Look out for the opening of "West Side"... it has startled me more than once when I wasn't paying attention! And the "Three Preludes" at the end are, again, an interesting expansion of the work for piano.

I can't say that I've heard a better performance of the Copland, so this album is worth it just for that. But, the other pieces are fun to listen to as well and nicely round out this album. K. Peters

1. Concerto for Clarinet by Aaron Copland 1947-1948
2. Goodbye in Memory of Benny by Gordon Hill Jenkins

Sonata for Clarinet and Piano by Leonard Bernstein 1941-1942
3. Grazioso
4. Andantino; Vivace e leggiero

5. West Side Variants by Leonard Bernstein
6. Promenade "Walking the dog" by George Gershwin
7. Porgy and Bess: Bess, you is my woman now by George Gershwin
8. Short Story by George Gershwin

Three Preludes by George Gershwin
9. Prelude #1: Allegro ben ritmato e deciso
10. Prelude #2: Andante con motoe poco rubato
11. Prelude #3: Allegro ben ritmato e deciso

London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Eric Stern (Michael Tilson Thomas on #1&2)
Richard Stoltzman (clarinet)
Recorded November 18, 1992 and May 8-9, 1993 at Abbey Road Studios, London, UK

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Appalachian Spring, composed in 1945, is in an uncomplicated idiom, rather like that of much music being written in Iron Curtain countries today (this review is from 1978) : bright simple tunes, diatonic harmonies, clean orchestration. It proved a winner from the start, and skill and inspiration combine to make it one of the most attractive of "nationalist" pieces, and—like, say, the Overture to The Bartered Bride—it should keep its place in the orchestral repertory.

The Tender Land, first given at the New York City Center, in 1954, was Copland's first opera (apart from The Second Hurricane mentioned above). The orchestral suite appeared three years later (a miniature score is obtainable from Boosey and Hawkes). The plot is a Middle-West pastorale. The suite consists of three numbers: the Introduction and Love Duet from Act 3; the Party Music from the second act, leading into the Quintet (Thanksgiving Song: "The Promise of Living") which closes the first act. In orchestral form I find the music very pleasant, but somewhat dull and repetitive —sort of vaguely "atmospheric" in a familiar way. Probably with the story and the singers it makes a more positive impression. A.P.

Ormandy secures wonderful playing from the Philadelphia Orchestra, highlighting the subtleties of tonal contrast. The delicacy of the string pianissimos has one catching the breath, and those hushed passages are sharply set against the brilliant, brittle passages based on jazz rhythms. Characteristically Ormandy is more literal in his reading of jazz rhythms than the composer or Bernstein. Instead of nudging the rhythms he sharpens their edge, and I could not illustrate the difference more clearly than with the cakewalk of triumph which follows the shooting scene in Billy the Kid. With the composer's version I drew a parallel with the Façade parodies or even with Satie. With Ormandy a far closer parallel is with the spiky music of Kurt Weill at his darkest and most bitter. It is apt that with Ormandy the brutality of the shooting sequence is conveyed at the fullest possible force. One really does experience it as a shooting. E.G.

1. Appalachian Spring (1944) 25:20

The Tender Land (orchestral suite from the opera) (1956) 20:40
2. Introduction and Love Music 10:15
3. Party Scene 4:53
4. Finale: The Promise of Living 5:28

Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Aaron Copland
Recorded April 23, 1959

5. Billy The Kid (ballet suite) (1939) 19:50

The Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy
Recorded May 28, 1969

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Here is another contribution by Miguel. Thanks!

I bought the original Vanguard MONO LP of these concertos in my teens, mainly for the Menotti. I had seen a local production of The Medium which spurred me to the Cleveland Public Library, where I checked out the score and the recording with Marie Powers. At that point, I really had little idea of Menotti's place in the musical world, or even that he was thought of as an opera specialist. After all, hadn't he written this concerto? I quickly found out that people who knew something about music looked down on him, but that didn't stop me from liking – a lot – what I heard.

It turns out that for most of his life, Menotti longed for a critical success like those enjoyed by his friend Samuel Barber, while Barber yearned for a popular success like Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors. Menotti probably came closest to what he wanted with his violin concerto (1952). Still, I've always liked the 1945 piano concerto even more. Formally, it's a bit of a mess, like a rumpled but favorite uncle, but it doesn't seem to matter – at least not to me. In its spirit and its contrasts, as well as in the general shape of some of its themes, it recalls very strongly Ravel's G-major concerto. It's just not as elegant or as brilliant a composition. Few other pieces (by anybody) are. What it does have are tunes, tunes, tunes – memorable tunes, tunes that ravish the ear, tunes that make you feel great, tunes that you find yourself humming for days, months, and years afterwards. The concerto proceeds in a straightforward way, with quick sections framing and balancing lyrical ones. The first movement explodes into a fugato with exuberant Scarlatti-like runs in the piano. A song-like section follows, and we end up with a recap. The slow movement is nine minutes of gorgeous, melancholy song. The finale – which I would call a rondo in a more solidly-constructed work than this – builds up to a bring-'em-to-their-feet ending. Menotti may not be Brahms, but he might very well be Grieg, and that's not nothing.

Of course, the Copland takes a much thornier approach, although it's not without considerable humor. However, where Menotti gives you the impression of just singing the song that lives within him, Copland consciously tries to carve out his own niche in Modernism. An early work (1926) written under the influence of both Stravinsky and Gershwin (the Concerto in F appeared in 1925), it shows a young man's desire to be taken seriously. I don't know how the first audiences took it, but it thrilled me from its opening bars. Like the Gershwin concerto, it shouts "New York!" from its first measures, with thrusting upward leaps followed by soaring cantabile. This is not the folky Copland of the "American" ballets, but you recognize the composer nevertheless. Jazz was still in the air, and Copland at this stage explored it as a way of writing characteristically American music. He gave it up shortly thereafter. Copland divides the concerto into two related parts, played without break, and writes extremely tersely. Each note says a lot. There's also a funny, jazz-vamp section, initiated by solo piano, with a melody that foreshadows the 1944 Jule Styne song, "Poor Little Rhode Island." It stands out so that you wonder whether Styne had ever heard the Copland. The soloist often gets to lurch into his part, as if drunk, dull-witted, or simply not very good, but it's all written in and indeed constitutes part of the rhythmic challenge of the concerto.

One associates Earl Wild with Liszt and Rachmaninoff, rather than with modern music (other than Gershwin), but he turns in a marvelous performance of both concerti. The Menotti fizzes and sings with a light touch, and Jorge Mester matches Wild with an accompaniment that sparkles. My only reservation is Copland and the Symphony of the Air. Copland can't keep the cross-rhythms in his own concerto quite together, and the orchestra sounds in spots like they're holding on. I did prefer Bernstein's recording with Copland as soloist (Sony 60177 or 2-CD set Sony 47232; the latter has a bunch of early Copland, 1923-1935) – broader, fuller-sounding, and rhythmically more compelling.

The Vanguard sound as presented on the CD improves on my LP enormously. In fact, the tinny, puny scratch from my record player led me to seek out the Copland/Bernstein in the first place. The CD incarnation is both rich and clear as a bell. Steve Schwartz.

Of special interest is the participation of Aaron Copland as conductor of his own concerto. Together with Earl Wild and the fine Symphony of the Air (formerly Toscanini's NBC Symphony), the composer has left us with a definitive recording of the work. A disc no collector will pass up, the disc-mate is the otherwise unavailable piano concerto of Gian Carlo Menotti, one of the composer's most beautiful and haunting works. Menotti: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in F (Mester conducting). Earl Wild, piano; The Symphony Of The Air.. Menotti's concerto received a brilliant recording in 1961 on the Vanguard label... It has just been reissued and remastered with startling sound quality. "Copland has recorded his Piano Concerto at least twice, once for CBS as soloist (with Leonard Bernstein conducting), and here for Vanguard in the role of conductor. In the absence from the catalogue of the CBS version - in which the composer is freer and more persuasive in the passages influenced by jazz -- this one with Earl Wild, a powerful soloist is very recommendable, and the recording is first-rate, hardly showing its age." Penguin Record Guide

Copland: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (1926)
1. Part One 6:20
2. Part Two 9:20
Earl Wild, piano
Symphony of the Air conducted by Aaron Copland

Menotti: Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra (1945)
3. Allegro 13:44
4. Lento 9:17
5. Allegro 10:20
Earl Wild, piano
Symphony of the Air conducted by Jorge Mester

Recorded in 1961

Saturday, April 4, 2009


I have been trying to resolve the issue of how to present recordings of Copland's work on discs in which his music is combined with that of other composers. Till now, I have avoided this by not posting such CD's.

Contemplated was ripping/posting only those selections composed by Copland: in the interest of completeness and to preserve the integrity of these discs, I have opted against this. Instead, I have decided to proceed and disregard the percieved problem, ignoring the fact that this "Copland" blog will sometimes present music that is "related" to Copland's, but not actually his.

By the way, this post was provided by my friend Miguel (thank you Miguel!), who is a visitor to this blog and has generously decided to contribute this excellent CD (and there are more to come!). You can find his original links in the comments section. Scoredaddy

RCA's welcome release of late-40's monaural recordings entitled "Leonard Bernstein: The Early Years" offers proof, if such were needed, that the great American conductor had the knack way back then. It also recalls his difficulty in deciding which of his talents to pursue.

As it happens, his performance of Copland's Piano Sonata is the most impressive of the four, masterfully embracing the craggy declamation of the outer movements and the jazz influence of the middle one.

Bernstein's New York Philharmonic stereo recordings of "Billy the Kid" and dances from "On the Town" on CBS remain preferable overall, but the conductor's admirers will want these striking efforts and the modest piano pieces "Seven Anniversaries" for their documentary value. RCA's 78-r.p.m. transfers are vivid and the surfaces quiet. SEDGWICK CLARK

These early Bernstein recordings are true treasures. In terms of time, the relatively short elapsed interval (sixty years or four generations) is nothing compared with the fruits of time. But they are essential documents that reveal an astonishing talent playing and conducting the score of one of the most heavy-weigh champions in the American musical landscape.

The figure of the internationally acclaimed director Leonard Bernstein will be inseparable of Aaron Copland. A close friend, and a successful conjunction of affinities, made possible that every time you listen Bernstein playing Copland you can identify rapidly without blinking. It is not a simple matter of orchestral technique; it goes far beyond. It' s a special taste an interwoven texture, an immediate rapport that it' s hard to visualize with a glimpse and even an intense analysis of his works.

Bernstein had that humor sense, that gentle rapture, stable smell, that melancholic vision of the Wild West, as the main inspiration source of a true American Mythology. So more than just conduct Bernstein describes us visually those far landscapes, the sordid gunfighters. Then listen carefully, his West pictures at exhibition in Billy the Kid, for instance and compare by yourself with any other performance. The RCA certainly lacked of the brightness of the New York Philharmonic, and nevertheless it's a vivifying and electrifying portrait.

Copland's Piano Sonata has always been neglected by most of pianists in the world. It' s underrated . I love this Sonata since I listened for the first time in the 70's. The unforgettable William Kapell was also an affectionate friend of Copland and played it.

Leonard Bernstein was also a promissory pianist and you may be kindly surprised with this notable and alluring performance, recorded January 22, 1947 when Bernstein was still in his late twenties (29). The second half of the album we have Bernstein playing his own music. The flame of the genius could be watched in these superb and invaluable recordings. Go and try to get as soon as possible for this album. More than a simple recording, it' s a national treasure. The transfer to tape was simply glorious. Hiram Gomez Pardo

Copland: Billy The Kid-Ballet Suite (1938)
1. Prelude: The Open Prairie
2. Street In A Frontier Town
3. Waltz
4. Card Game
5. The Fight
6. Celebration Dance
7. Epilogue
Leonard Bernstein/RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra
Recorded June 12 & 23, 1949

Copland: Piano Sonata (1939-41)
8. Molto Moderato; Piu Largamente -
9. Vivace
10. Andante Sostenuto
Leonard Bernstein, piano
Recorded January 22, 1947

Bernstein: Seven Anniversaries (1943)
11. For Aaron Copland
12. For My Sister, Shirley
13. In Memoriam: Alfred Eisner
14. For Paul Bowles
15. In Memoriam: Nathalie Koussevitzky
16. For Serge Koussevitzky
17. For Willam Schuman
Leonard Bernstein, piano
Recorded September 17, 1947

Bernstein: On The Town-Dances (1944)
18. Pas De Deux: Lonely Town
19. Act I Finale: Times Square
20. The Subway
21. Gabey, The Great Lover
22. Pas De Deux: Ivy & Gabey
Leonard Bernstein conducting the 'On The Town' Orchestra
Recorded February 3, 1945

Monday, March 30, 2009


A very substantial addition to the Aaron Copland discography, this was Copland's first film score and it led to his notable additional career at Hollywood.

It receives here the first modern recording of the music, which the composer surprisingly had not arranged as a concert suite.

The City was an unique documentary film by Ralph Steiner and Willard Van Dyke created for the 1939 New York World's Fair, its theme the contrast in living conditions and possibilities between a grim milltown and frantic city with the possibilities of a better life in a planned "new town", Greenbelt, Maryland. The score is unusual in its continuity and ironic commentary on the visual message, at its height in the city scenes, most especially commenting on rush hour traffic and hectic lunch breaks, the idyllic life near nature at Greenbelt counterpointed with beautiful music, maybe a little less arresting. But the music as rediscovered here would certainly justify a place in an orchestral concert programme.

This DVD is very much a labour of love and its "extras" are best seen first. The original film with Lewis Mumford's didactic commentary narrated by Morris Carnovsky and the music conducted by Max Goberman has a period quality, with the sound track of its time fully equal to putting across its uncommon quality within the genre; we found it riveting.

Next, see a short film made for the Greenbelt Museum, 2000, in which older residents (some of them had featured as children in The City) extol the virtues of this "garden town" which continues to be a desirable place to live and bring up families. Lastly there is a conversation with Joseph Horowitz which contextualises this ground breaking film of the thirties.

The new version has sharper, better contrasted visual images and a vivid modern stereo presentation of the score, an important example of Copland's more "popular" music reflecting his desire to reach an enlarged "new audience" in the thirties and forties. Conductor Angel Gil-Ordonez and new narrator Francis Guinan contribute to its success, the latter recorded deliberately "no louder than required for the words to be understood", thereby taking nothing from the force of the music. Peter Grahame Woolf

In the Los Angeles Times, Mark Swed called Aaron Copland’s score to The City “an astonishing missing link not only in the genesis of Copland’s Americana style, but in American music and cinema.” On January 27, Naxos releases The City (Naxos 2110231) with a newly-recorded soundtrack of the complete Copland score, featuring the Washington, D.C.-based Post-Classical Ensemble and conductor Angel Gil Ordóñez. Francis Guinan, a founding member of the renowned, Chicago-based Steppenwolf Theater Ensemble, narrates. This DVD is a sequel to The River and The Plow that Broke the Plains (Naxos 2110521), two classic Pare Lorentz documentaries that strongly influenced The City. The new DVD marks the first time Copland’s score has been recorded in its entirety.The DVD is produced by the Post-Classical Ensemble’s Artistic Director, Joseph Horowitz, author of Classical Music in America: A History and the recently-released Artists in Exile: How Refugees from Twentieth Century War and Revolution Transformed the American Performing Arts. Horowitz considers Copland’s little-known score (which was never condensed as a concert suite) his “highest achievement” as a film composer. Horowitz also notes: “At a time when the recession and a crisis in housing have focused attention on the New Deal, The City is suddently remarkably timely. The greenbelt towns it espouses were a quintessential New Deal experiment, federally planned and subsidized by Rexford Tugwell’s Resettlement Administration.”

About the film

Made for the 1939 World’s Fair (”The World of Tomorrow”), The City is a classic documentary film distinguished for its organic integration of narration (scripted by Lewis Mumford), cinematography (by Ralph Steiner and Willard Van Dyke), and music (by Copland). The resulting tapestry is astonishing for its vibrance and originality. Because filming outdoors with sound was so difficult and expensive, the story is told without dialogue, relying solely on its imagery, narration, and music. It is the absence of dialogue that makes it possible to create a new soundtrack - and for the first time do justice to the symphonic detail and depth of Copland’s score.

Depicting in sequence a New England village, a milltown, a “city,” and a “new town,” The City illustrates how the frantic pace of city and milltown living destroyed the quality of life formerly found in rural America-but which could be recaptured in “planned communities of modest size.” In the opening sequence, Mumford (an early critic of “urban sprawl,” whose seminal 1961 book, The City in History, explored the development of urban civilization) has the narrator rhapsodize: “The town was us, and we were part of it.” The culminating “new town” sequence was filmed in Greenbelt, Maryland, site of the first federal experiment using Mumford’s model of a small, planned community that provided Americans with jobs they could walk to, along with social services, schools, and shops-in short, a self-sustaining community. This historic city exists today and appears in the bonus film Which Playground for Your Child: Greenbelt or Gutter?, which features its original inhabitants (including those in The City), as well its next generation of residents.

Aaron Copland as Film Composer

Aaron Copland’s desire to broaden his audience in the 1930s and ‘40s attracted him to film; The City was his first soundtrack. His works were the antitheses of the lush, Romantic scores by his Hollywood contemporaries Erich Korngold and Max Steiner, leading famed composer, conductor, and pianist André Previn to comment that “what Copland represented in Hollywood was ‘fewer notes.’ ” Copland followed the example of Virgil Thomson, who, in The Plow that Broke the Plains (1936) and The River (1937), created a new style of film music Copland considered “fresher, more simple, and more personal” than most Hollywood movie music-”a lesson in how to treat Americana.”

The City’s structure permitted Copland to explore a gamut of iconic American locales. Sounds such as sirens, a taped emergency call, and typewriters become part of the musical score, evoking Varèse’s Amériques and Ionisation.

The City was Copland’s ticket to Hollywood, where he later composed the soundtracks to Of Mice and Men (1939), Our Town (1940), The North Star (1943), The Red Pony (1948), and The Heiress (1949), among others. He won an Academy Award for The Heiress, but director William Wyler’s insistence on bringing in another composer to soften his score soured him on working in Hollywood.

DVD Extras:

The City with the original soundtrack (43:40)
Featuring Morris Carnovsky (narrator) and an orchestra conducted by Max Goberman.

Which Playground for Your Child: Greenbelt or Gutter? (15:09)
A film produced in 2000 by Video Art Productions for the Greenbelt Museum. These interviews with three “pioneers” who lived in Greenbelt, Maryland, beginning in 1937 and 1938, include the reminiscences of Bob Sommers, who recalls the filming of The City and is the boy with the flat tire in the film.

George Stoney in Conversation with Joseph Horowitz (29:15)
This conversation with the legendary documentary filmmaker, who is also a historian of the genre (and, at age 91, an eyewitness to the New Deal and the 1939 World’s Fair), begins with a discussion of why 1930s documentaries such as The City eschewed dialogue-and the artistic consequences.

The DVD is produced with the support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Aaron Copland Fund, and the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at Maryland and is distributed in the United States by Naxos of America.

Recorded at Dekelboum Concert Hall, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, College Park, 15 October 2007

Picture format: NTSC 4:3
Audio format: Dolby Digital / DTS Surround
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Running time: 132 mins
No. of DVDs: 1 (DVD 9)

Friday, March 27, 2009


This is an excellent collection of Aaron Copland’s early orchestral works, written when the composer was in his twenties and mid-thirties. These pieces have not achieved the notoriety of Mr. Copland’s later “populist” compositions and contain more modernist devices. Some of these feature jazz elements (such as the Piano Concerto, Music for the Theater and the Dance Symphony, which was drawn from materials composed for the “Grogh” ballet). Despite the complexity of these selections, the music is both exhilarating and interesting, albeit challenging. Repeat listenings are required if one wishes to fully appreciate these compositions.

Of the eight works, three are conducted by Leonard Bernstein, who is often considered the definitive interpreter of Copland’s music. The rest are under the direction of the composer himself. Below find various reviews of the original issues culled from the archives at Gramophone Magazine. Scoredaddy

At some time in the 1920s, after returning from Europe and his studies with Nadia Boulanger, Copland seems to have discovered in himself an excessive dependence on European models, and to have made a conscious decision to 'Americanize' his music. One can almost hear him making that decision—with a snap of the fingers and a cry of 'Eureka!'—half-way through the finale of the Dance Symphony that he wrote when he and the twentieth century were 25 years old. After a portentous slow introduction, a brisk and rhythmically alert allegro and a sort of sarabande with bonily lyrical woodwind solos (all these sounding post-Roussel, if anything, and not in the least transatlantic), he finds the logical conclusion of a drivingly energetic presto in a passage of jazz-derived syncopation. The slithery mockromantic waltz and the brashly noisy coda that follow sound like gestures of exuberance from a man who has found a voice and knows what he can say with it. The Short Symphony of eight years later is recognizably Copland in every bar: two lithely athletic toccatas, the first of them incorporating music of earnest endeavour by way of contrast, are placed on either side of an andante full of his characteristic sense of open spaces beneath broad skies—it is almost a sketch for the "Corral Nocturne" in his ballet Rodeo, still at this date nine years in the future. That it is an 'early' work is . occasionally betrayed by a tendency to the raucous, on the one hand, and by a few pages of over-blown rhetoric on the other. It could also be objected that neither work, sternly considered, is truly a symphony: both could be more accurately described by the title of a later Copland work, Dance Panels. But both have ample vigour and freshness to make such a reservation seem irrelevant. It is good to welcome them back to the catalogue. Performances and recordings alike are crisp., clean and efficient. M.E.O.

The Two Pieces for String Orchestra date from the twenties. Both originally written for string quartet, the first piece dates from 1928, the Rondino from Copland's Paris period five years earlier with the name Gabriel Faure providing the main theme for a chattering neo-classic piece that suggests Hindemith rather than any French composer. E.G.

Statements is not quite such a clear case: there are six of them (militant, cryptic, dogmatic, subjective, jingo, and prophetic respectively), and six orchestral movements to expound them. But the statement of a single mood lends itself less well than that of two or more contrasted or interwoven moods to large-scale music (this was why sonata form was invented); and in these pieces Copland's ends and means do not seem altogether well-matched. M.M.

Symphonic Ode, which as Copland says himself, is in essence a one movement symphony: It was written for the same fiftieth anniversary of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which inspired among other works Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms, and was revised 25 years later for the same orchestra's seventy-fifth anniversary. The later version reduces the extravagance of the earlier scoring, and transposes the outer sections a tone lower to make the brass parts more convenient to play.

The bare harmonies and wide intervals in the opening section at once link this music with Copland’s Orchestral Variations, a degree more severe in style than one expects with Copland, but the purpose is more obviously rhetorical, and when the music subsides to mezzo-piano there is a hint of the more approachable Copland of Quiet City and the like. Not that any of this music is unapproachable, and the scherzo section with its quaver triplets and duplets in irregular patterns has (as Copland is the first to admit) its association with jazz. The slow section keeps the manner rugged, and I am reminded of another one-movement symphony from America, Roy Harris's Third. If only the Symphonic Ode had been called a symphony, it might have been better known. Both the Harris and the Copland works in fact betray clear influence from Sibelius's Seventh. E.G.

The Copland exploration — often a rewarding one—extends now back to the earlier days of the 1920s. In 1925 Music for the Theatre made friends and enemies, in 1927 the Piano Concerto. Both friends and enemies seized on the jazz inflections shared by both works : these made the concerto "music of impressive austerity, of true character" on the one hand, and the product of "a jazz dance hall next door to a poultry yard" on the other. Perhaps indeed it is both at once: the jazz inflections have not, history has since decided, become part of standard symphonic language, and they do seem now a period excrescence on what could otherwise he heard as a serious, if not exactly as a solemn work. There are some lyrical passages of great beauty (the soloist's first entry, for example) ; but these passages do tend to be interrupted by jazzy excursions seemingly intruding not so much from a different work as from a different world: one from which we are remoter now than we were then. The Music for the Theatre, too: this is smallerscale music, yet also has many very happy lyrical passages indeed, along with those borrowed from the other side of the fence.

Both works have at times been rated the pinnacles of symphonic jazz. This is a view I cannot quite share; but listeners who do hold that view, or who do wish to give it a chance, will find that this record expounds the music as convincingly as could ever be hoped. It is well recorded, in both mono and stereo, and the pieces are played in excellent style, whether in their symphonic strength or in the ease and fluency with which the orchestral soloists concerned (especially the clarinet) play those passages stemming most clearly from the dance hall. Copland obviously plays his own piano part definitively (and very well), and it seems reasonable to suppose that his special authority was also available for making the Music for the Theatre as well into something like a definitive version. Copland collectors must obviously not miss this record. M.M.

Disc: 1
Dance Symphony (1922-1925)
1. I. Introduction: Lento; Molto allegro; Adagio molto 7:02
2. II. Andante moderato 6:03
3. III. Allegro vivo 4:56
London Symphony Orchestra Conducted by Aaron Copland
Recorded at Walthamstow Town Hall, London UK on October 2&3, 1967

Two Pieces For String Orchestra (1923, 1928)
4. Lento molto 5:42
5. Rondino 4:23
London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Aaron Copland
Recorded at Walthamstow Town Hall, London UK on November 6, 1965

Symphony For Organ & Orchestra (1924)
6.: I. Prelude: Andante 6/8 5:54
7. II. Scherzo: Allegro molto 3/4; Moderato 4- 7:30
8. III. Finale: Lento; Allegro moderato 4/4 11:00
New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein
E. Power Biggs, organ
Recorded at Philharmonic Hall (Avery Fisher Hall), New York City, NY USA on January 3, 1967

Music For The Theatre (1925)
9.: I. Prologue 5:46
10. II. Dance 3:13
11. III. Interlude 5:19
12. IV. Burlesque 3:13
13. V. Epilogue 3:51
New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein
Recorded at the St. George Hotel, Brooklyn, New York USA on December 15, 1958

Disc: 2
Concerto For Piano & Orchestra (1926)
1. I. Andante sostenuto 6:50
2. II. Molto moderato (molto rubato) 9:18
New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein
Aaron Copland, piano
Recorded at Philharmonic Hall (Avery Fisher Hall), New York City, NY USA on January 13, 1964

Symphonic Ode (1927-1929)
3. Symphonic Ode 19:47
London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Aaron Copland
Recorded at Walthamstow Town Hall, London UK on October 2&3, 1967

Short Symphony (Symphony No. 2) (1931-1933)
4. Short Symphony (Symphony No. 2) 15:30

Statements (1934-1935)
5 I. Militant 2:44
6. II. Cryptic 3:21
7. III. Dogmatic 1:47
8. IV. Subjective 3:31
9. V. Jingo 2:33
10. VI. Prophetic 3:34
London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Aaron Copland
Recorded at Walthamstow Town Hall, London UK on November 5, 1965

Thursday, March 26, 2009


This is not my rip. It appears on these pages courtesy of my good friend, Buster, host of one of my favorite spots in blogosphere, BIG 10-INCH RECORD, where this rip was originally posted (the text below also comes from Buster's original posting of this title.) I highly recommend visiting his wonderful and unusual collection. Scoredaddy

Benny Goodman commissioned Aaron Copland's Clarinet Concerto in 1948, and although Goodman's stereo recording is well known, this earlier edition, from 1950, is not.

Columbia took Goodman and Copland to its 30th Street studio in New York for the November 1950 session. Benny sounds cautious but does no serious harm to this gorgeous composition.

A few months later, the illustrious New York Quartet went to the same studio to tape a thornier composition, Copland's Piano Quartet, for the Clarinet Concerto's coupling. These days, works in Copland's populist style are generally packaged together. Not so back then.

The New York Quartet had presented the first performance of the Piano Quartet a few months before this recording, which must have been all that Copland could have wished for. The quartet's members were Mieczyslaw Horszowski, piano, Alexander Schneider, violin, Milton Katims, viola, and Frank Miller, cello.

Perhaps Columbia sensed that they were creating historic recordings, because the sound is better than much of the sludge that came out of its 30th Street site. And these are historic recordings indeed. It's curious that they are not better known. Buster

1. Clarinet Concerto (1948) 17:33
The Columbia String Orchestra conducted by Aaron Copland
Benny Goodman, clarinet

Piano Quartet (1950)
2. I. Adagio serioso 6:26
3. II. Allegro giusto; III. Non troppo lento 14:11

New York Quartet: Mieczyslaw Horszowski, piano, Alexander Schneider, violin, Milton Katims, viola, and Frank Miller, cello.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


This CD was provided to us via the kindness and friendship of Horacio. Please check out his essential blog, LA DISCOTECA CLASICA, featuring the finest collection of lesser-known, "neglected" composers you will ever find. It is a magical place to discover great music you may not even know existed. It is my FAVORITE place on the web and I visit it EVERY day. Thank you Horacio! Scoredaddy

Hugh Wolff's reputation precedes him. On this evidence, I can't say I am surprised. His Appalachian Spring, pristine in its original version for 13 instruments, is exceptionally good—keen, personable, honest. This is surely the best way (indeed I am beginning to think the only way) to hear Copland's most durable score—pared down to the barest essentials, pure and simple, unadorned. The intimacy of the sound alone lends the proceedings a more personal, homespun quality. Solo voices stand out in rustic relief, when the first allegro (marked vigoroso) bursts upon the scene, the gutsy immediacy of solo strings (a mere nonet) and dancing piano pays enormous dividends, especially in the hands of players as accomplished as these. So too the burgeoning of Simple Gifts, tentatively, mysteriously from a single sustained B in the bassoon (track 19). And of course there are the eight or so minutes of extra music (extra to the Suite, that is) reflecting the hopes and fears of the early settlers—again tensely chronicled here by the St Paul players. It's a lovely performance, lucidly recorded: as the solo flute brings blissful reassurance on the final page of all, the flowering of one last arpeggio from deep in the string bass is the kind of sound you can reach out and touch.

I should like to have 'heard' more of the breathless nocturnal atmosphere of Quiet City: the lower dynamics here (especially in the backwash of strings) are nowhere near quiet enough, the moodiness never quite takes hold, for all that Wolff has two wonderfully expressive voices in Gary Bordner (trumpet) and Thomas Tempel (cor anglais) to while away the small hours. I've no misgivings about the Latin American Sketches, though: the "Estribillo" strikes just the right attitudes, "Paisaje mexicana" is cool and sexy, and the familiar "Danza de Jalisco" with its clicking heels and hand-claps is, to use Copland's word, "bouncy". And there's plenty more where that came from in the piquant 'latino' jazz of the Music for the Theatre Prologue. Again style and detail couldn't be snappier: be it the roaring 1920s charleston-ja77 of the foot-tapping "Dance" with its 'blue' trumpet and clarinet breaks or the bumps and grinds of the "Burlesque" floorshow. Roy Harris called this "whorehouse music"—a description I rather like. Best of all, though, is the limpid blues ("Interlude") where every solo line emerges as if from a trance and those fragile piano interjections sound properly disembodied. Happily, this marks the start of a Teldec contract for Wolff—clearly good news. E.S.

Music For The Theatre (1925)
1. Prolouge
2. Dance
3. Interlude
4. Burlesque
5. Epilogue

Three Latin American Sketches (1959, 1971)
6. Estribillo
7. Paisaje Mexicano
8. Danza de Jalisco

9. Quiet City (1940)

Appalachian Spring (1945)
10. Very slowly
11. Allegro, vigoroso
12. Moderato
13. Much slower, poco rubato
14. Fast
15. Malto moderato
16. Allegro
17. Presto
18. Meno mosso
19. As at first (Slowly)
20. Thema and variations ('The Gift to be Simple')
21. Rather Slow
22. Very deliberate
23. Poco piu mosso (Twice as Fast)
24. Molto allegro ed agitato
25. Broadly
26. Moderato
27. Andante

Recorded at Ordway Music Theater, Saint Paul, Minnesota USA in September, 1990

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


This brilliant new issue—Leonard Slatkin's first St Louis recording for EMI—is particularly valuable for bringing us, not just the ballet Suite from Billy the Kid, which has been recorded many times, but the complete ballet. [Some sleeves state that this is the first complete Billy the Kid, which is incorrect, it is however the first complete Rodeo featuring some seven or eight minutes of extra music and including the piano interlude in "Saturday night waltz" which has seldom previously been heard—EMI are correcting this on subsequent reprinting—Ed.) Billy receives roughly ten minutes more of music, much of it illustrative in Copland's colourful and distinctive way but also including two complete numbers. One is a quick waltz based on the Old Smokey theme used a moment previously in the passage following the Mexican Dance. The other is much more substantial, a slow romantic waltz based on the Mexican Dance theme, which represents Billy finding refuge with his Mexican sweetheart. When the total time of the ballet at about 32 minutes makes a good concert length (and here a generous LP side-length), I hope we shall hear this full version more often now.

With this performance Slatkin confirms the impressions one had from his RCA recordings and from last year's European tour by the St Louis Orchestra, that it is a refined as well as a brilliant band. As recorded in the Powell Hall, St Louis, the sound at first gives the impression of being on the dry side, but in fact it has plenty of bloom along with clean directional effects. It gains substantially over both Bernstein's (CBS 60114,5/82) and the composer's own couplings of Billy the Kid suite and Rodeo (CBS 72888, 2/71), when the definition of the digital recording and its range bring out much of the detail in Copland's colourful orchestration. Unlike them it avoids any aggressiveness but conveys plenty of bite as in the spectacular and highly atmospheric account of the gunbattle in Billy the Kid. Some of the woodwind solos are not quite so distinguished as those from the LSO principals on Copland's version but the result is every bit as authentic. E.G.

Leonard Slatkin, who has done such outstanding service for American music, upholds the Copland tradition with potent, sympathetically argued accounts of the big ballets. The performances by the Saint Louis Symphony could hardly be bettered, and the recordings stand out for their solid sound as well. Slatkin does both Billy the Kid and Rodeo in full, restoring some delightful music in both scores that is missed when only the suites are presented. In Rodeo, for example, it comes as a delicious surprise to hear the Saloon-piano interlude before the "Saturday Night Waltz"--and Slatkin insists on an out-of-tune upright--just the right touch. These are idiomatic, persuasive accounts, thrilling in their buildups and potent in their climaxes. Even Appalachian Spring is done in full, though in its version for full orchestra. The treatment here is gentle, and while Slatkin generates less voltage than Bernstein, his reading has nobility and an engaging warmth. The recordings were made at a rather low level, but have a wonderful ambience and extraordinary dynamic range. Unfortunately, the individual scenes of Billy the Kid are not separately banded. Ted Libbey

1 Billy The Kid (Complete Ballet) 1938 (32:26)

Rodeo (Complete Ballet) 1942 (22:52)
2 Buckaroo Holiday (7:07)
3 Corral Nocturne (3:34)
4 Piano Interlude & Saturday Night Waltz (7:57)
5 Hoe-Down (4:14)

Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra; Conductor - Leonard Slatkin
Recorded October 8 & 9, 1985, in Powell Symphony Hall, St. Louis, Missouri

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Here is a very well played collection of Copland pieces composed in his more tonal and consonant style. Gerard Schwarz has proven himself a very capable Copland interpreter over the years and Schifrin's clarinet is more than up to the challenging Concerto for Clarinet & String Orchestra, which was commissioned in 1947 by jazz star Benny Goodman. Copland incorporated many jazz elements into his concerto, who once told Phillip Ramey that his decision to use jazz materials was "inspired by Goodman's playing" but that, "contrary to certain commentators, the jazz elements in the Clarinet Concerto have nothing to do with the 'hot jazz' improvisation for which Benny Goodman and his sextet were noted". The piece is written in a very unusual form. The two movements are played back-to-back, linked by a clarinet cadenza. The first movement is written in A-B-A form and is slow and expressive, full of bittersweet lyricism. The cadenza not only gives the soloist an opportunity to display his virtuosity, but also introduces many of the melodic Latin American jazz themes that dominate the second movement. The overall form of the final movement is a free rondo with several developing side issues that resolve in the end with an elaborate coda in C major. Copland noted that his playful finale is born of "an unconscious fusion of elements obviously related to North and South American popular music (for example, a phrase from a currently popular Brazilian tune, heard by me in Rio, became embedded in the secondary material)." This section was written specially for Benny Goodman's jazz talents; however, many of the technical challenges were above Goodman's confidence level (but probably not his skill level), and the original score shows several alterations to bring down higher notes, making it easier to play.

Music for the Theater (1925), is a suite in five parts for small orchestra, which makes use of syncopated and polymetric rhythms, and "blue" intervals. Copland had no particular play in mind for his work; rather, his music was intended to evoke the variety of moods found in many plays of the day, the romantic or contemplative interlude, the dance-like burst of excited activity, even a parody of burlesque. Brightened with trumpets, trombone, and clarinet, the music evokes jazz and popular song while remaining distinctively Copland's: listen for the sudden changes in metre, the irregular time signatures, the way the spaces inside the music can fill up or empty out in a heartbeat. And the relaxed lyricism of the Prologue, Interlude, and Epilogue is already uniquely his own; what's more, it's uniquely American. Not bad for a 24-year-old.

Quiet City (1940) is a well-known composition for trumpet, cor anglais, and string orchestra by Aaron Copland. In 1940, Copland knitted together the ten-minute piece from the incidental music he had written the previous year to accompany Irwin Shaw's play of the same name. The play had been commissioned for the Group Theatre by Harold Clurman and was directed by Elia Kazan. Although the play was dropped after only two Sunday performances, most likely due to internal dissension (see Richard Shickel's discussion in his 2005 biography of Elia Kazan, pp. 75-78), the music endured thanks to Copland's distilled version. Copland's decision to replace the original instrumentation, a chamber quartet of clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, and piano, with a larger ensemble of strings, trumpet, and cor anglais, has tended to deepen rather than sacrifice the intimacy and poignancy of the music. The piece was premiered on January 28, 1941, by conductor Daniel Saidenberg and his Saidenberg Little Symphony in New York City. Quiet City evokes the nocturnal introspections of the dwellers of a great city, beginning in stillness before slowly building up to a climax and then receding into silence again. The voice of the lone trumpeter, joined by that of the dark-toned cor anglais, rises and falls against the clear sound of the strings, in a cathartic release of the nostalgia, melancholy, regrets, and anxieties that distressed individuals in an urban society feel most acutely at night. According to Copland, the piece was "an attempt to mirror the troubled main character of Irwin Shaw's play," who had abandoned his Jewishness and his poetic aspirations in order to pursue material success by Anglicizing his name, marrying a rich socialite, and becoming the president of a department store. The man, however, was continually recalled to his conscience by the haunting sound of his brother's trumpet playing. Continuing the assessment in his own autobiography, Copland observed that "Quiet City seems to have become a musical entity, superseding the original reasons for its composition," owing much of its success to its escape from the details of its dramatic context.

Dance Panels (1959, revised 1962): In seven "movements". Copland at his most Copland-esque. Long pastroal melodies, bouncy tunes, a snare drum here or there. This is film music without a film, the "dawn" opening on a single pitch with offstage horns, ending with a return of the opening material after a deus ex machina trumpet solo that brings the becoming dissonant festivities to a jarring halt and the dawn rises again. Underplayed and enjoyable. The panel technique allows him to experiment with several different moods, which I'm coming more and more to realize is the essence of Copland's language. Consider even his first piece, the piano work: The Cat and the Mouse, in a way this is similar and stands rather separeate from the more "abstract" proclamatory works like the Piano/Orchestral Variations. The orchestration is consistently lovely and here is an interesting point to be aware of - in Copland's music we are hearing a sound orchestrated for the instruments, instead of the instruments playing the music - its a subtle difference. There is the blending of sounds that is so French - back to the Impressionists and forward to the Spectralists - that differs in so many ways from a contrapuntal style as in, say Carter or Ruggles.

1. Concerto for Clarinet & Orchestra (1948) 15:47
David Schifrin (clarinet)

Music For The Theater (1925)
2. Prologue 5:45
3. Dance 3:12
4. Interlude 5:07
5. Burlesque 3:07
6. Epilogue 3:43
David Schifrin (clarinet)
Mark Hill (English horn)
Neil Baum (trumpet)

7. Quiet City (1940) 8:57
Mark Hill (English horn)
Neil Baum (trumpet)

Dance Panels (1959, rev 1962)
8. Introduction: Moderato 3:35
9. Allegretto con tenerezza 4:11
10. Scherzando 4:06
11. Pas de trois: Lento 4:25
12. Con brio 3:28
13. Con moto 1:29
14. Molto ritmico 4:49

New York Chamber Symphony conducted by Gerard Schwarz