Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A COPLAND CELEBRATION, VOL 1: FAMOUS ORCHESTRAL AND CHAMBER WORKS

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

DISC ONE

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

DISC TWO
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

12 comments:

Scoredaddy said...

If you download this album and appreciate my efforts sharing it with you, please make a comment below.

If you want to bring this upload to the attention of people on another website, please link to this blog and not to the actual download links.

NO MIRRORS, PLEASE!

FLACS(EAC)+CUE+LOG+SCANS@300DPI
http://rapidshare.com/files/292692152/arncopl-celeb1.part1.rar
http://rapidshare.com/files/292692004/arncopl-celeb1.part2.rar
http://rapidshare.com/files/292691890/arncopl-celeb1.part3.rar
http://rapidshare.com/files/292679105/arncopl-celeb1.part4.rar
http://rapidshare.com/files/292679449/arncopl-celeb1.part5.rar
http://rapidshare.com/files/292679482/arncopl-celeb1.part6.rar
http://rapidshare.com/files/292679488/arncopl-celeb1.part7.rar
http://rapidshare.com/files/292560367/arncopl-celeb1.part8.rar

Pippo said...

Beautiful post Scoredaddy, I'll never thank you enough.

Steven64 said...

@Scoredaddy:
Holy cow1 What a wonderful share! And an even more wonderful introduction to Mr. Copland's amazing oevre. I was (naturally) familiar with "Fanfare for the Common Man" and the "Hoedown" segment of Rodeo but had never, to my knowledge, heard any of his other work. The only downside to this amazing discovery is that you've whetted my appetite for more, more, more! To that end, I am currently downloading Vol. 2. Thank you very, very much!

isidingo said...

Thanks Scoredaddy

You've turned me from a Copland admirer to a devotee.
By the way,did you ever see the BBC Omnibus documemtary on Copland.
It was really awesome.

Thanks again for all your wonderful uploads

jgmondragon said...

Fabuloso disco de Aaron Coplan. Que sonido de Alta Fidelidad y en Estereo que tienen el Rodeo y la Fanfaria para un hombre común
El único incoveniente es que tiene poco volumen.
El Rapshare solamente deja descargar una parte diaria.
De todas maneras muchas gracias por este regalazo!
Espero que me entiendan porque no se inglés.

mnwugn86 said...

Taking this one - thanks!

troods said...

I am looking forward to a day of Copland tomorrow after the download. This set exhausted me just from the reading - high excitement. I'm now understanding the beauty of Bose computer speakers - I can hear music of this caliber all over the apartment and it's a huge apartment.
Thank you for your generosity. I can't believe my good fortune in finding you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks!

The Trackfinder said...

Thank you man!
It's been a long time I've been looking for any work by Copland. I have many of his compositions adapted by other artists but have never had the chance to listen anything like this.
Thank you very much for posting it!!!

Andythecount said...

Thank you very much. I much appreciate your postings of such wonderful music.

Audentity said...

Thank you so much! Great to hear Copland's take on his own music. Love the rehearsal track.

copayapu said...

Muchas gracias una excelente recopilsación, saludos