Tuesday, April 21, 2009

EUGENE ORMANDY/PHILADELPHIA ORCH: BILLY THE KID + AARON COPLAND/BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCH: APPALACHIAN SPRING & THE TENDER LAND SUITE

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

8 comments:

Scoredaddy said...

FLACS(EAC)+CUE+LOG+SCANS@300DPI
http://rapidshare.com/files/224065139/aarcop-app.part1.rar http://rapidshare.com/files/224065177/aarcop-app.part2.rar
http://rapidshare.com/files/224065164/aarcop-app.part3.rar
http://rapidshare.com/files/224050382/aarcop-app.part4.rar


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Miguel said...

Thank you so much. This is one of my all time favorites albuns, with my favorite orchestra. Sadly the release I have missed the linner notes... But not anymore :)

Kwork said...

Awesome! Thank you very much. I haven't heard Ormandy conducting Copland before, so this will be a treat. The Copland conducted pieces are welcome also.

Speaking of the composer conducting Appalachian Spring, do you have the original chamber version that he recorded and conducted? I also heard that there was a record where we got to hear him rehearsing some of it with the original group. I would love to hear that as well if available anywhere.

This blog is incredible! Thanks for everything here. Copland is my favorite American composer by far!

Byrd said...

I bought the Boston Symphony recordings when they were first issued on LP (almost 50 years ago!). It's wonderful to now have them on CD. Thanks! (And thanks for including the scans!)

Pippo said...

Thank you Scoredaddy beautiful post, regarding the Copland rehearsing I used to have an audio cassette bought in the store, (perhaps 1981 in Hollywood ? I vaguely remember) I might still have it lurkin' somewhere.
I do not think it would sounds acceptably good, the rehearsal audio wasn't great starting with plus the tape and time wear.

hanswurst said...

No doubt. I am going to love this. Thanks :D

Anonymous said...

Fantastic blog...thank you, thank you, thank you

sudzy said...

Thanks Scoredaddy. Copeland ahs composed such lovley music. Appreciated muchly!