This is another "donation" by the very generous Miguel. My sincere thanks... Scoredaddy
Though Aaron Copland is probably best known for his more accessible music (like his ballet scores Rodeo and Appalachian Spring), this CD presents, alongside selections from these pieces, some earlier and more intricate works of this great American composer. Of course, Appalachian Spring is very well known to many, though here it is performed in the original setting for thirteen instruments. For those who only know the full-orchestra version, this may present some surprising new sounds and it's certainly a nice diversion. Since Appalachian Spring is one of my favorite pieces, I enjoyed this greatly.
The second work on this CD is the Sextet for clarinet, piano and string quartet. In fact this piece is a transcription of Copland's second symphony (the "short symphony"). Due to the difficulties that this symphony presented to many professional orchestras (mainly the intricate rhythmical structure of the work), it was rarely played. Copland, to make this work accessible to the public, made this arrangement for a smaller ensemble. Characteristic for Copland's work in this period (the nineteenthirties), its idiom is much more difficult than works like Appalachian Spring. So, it may take some getting used to, although it's already extremely Copland-like (you can already hear traces of what later will become for example rodeo or Appalachian Spring). The first movement is a jumpy, dance-like Allegro vivace, much like the Hoe-down also on this CD. The second movement, Lento, is intense and quiet, much like the quieter moments in Appalachian Spring. Without pause, the Lento passes into the Finale, introduced by some sudden piano chords. This finale is a very rhythmic, fast, bur humorous piece. At the end, thematic material from the first movement is recapitulated. Though it is, as I said, no Appalachian Springs, I find this a great piece. It's very interesting to hear that a lot of elements of Copland's later works are already present here, albeit in a different form and stage of development.
Quiet City, for English Horn, Trumpet and Strings was written in 1941 (two years before Appalachian Spring). It's a dialogue between the two solo instruments with string accompaniment. Though it is a intimate work, focussing more on harmony than on rhythm, I find myself getting bored towards the end, it's quite a lot of the same really.
The two pieces for string orchestra are arrangements of the two pieces for string quartet that Copland wrote between 1923 and 1928. The Lento molto is a melodramatic piece with dense harmonical writing. It's a silently flowing piece with now and then some dramatic crescendo's. The second piece, a rondino, opens similar to the first movement of the sextet. Although it is not as complicated as the sextet, it's has the same character, albeit more lyrical (as can be expected with a string orchestra). But, even when there is more lyrical writing there is always the driving force of the opening rhythm, even pizzicato in the violins under a beautiful cello-melody.
The last work on this CD is the exuberant Hoe Down from Rodeo. This is Copland on his most humorous and most enthusiastic. The violins even produce some dubious tones in this semblance of a drunken feast.
I find this CD a very nice compilation of some of Copland's well-known and less well-known works, with very nice ensemble playing. It's definitely a CD that will never lose its charm. JJM Peters
Sextet, for clarinet, piano & string quartet (arr. of Symphony No. 2) 15:38 (1937)
2. Allegro Vivace 4:40
3. Lento 4:54
4. Finale 6:00
Violins: Robert Gibbs, Amanda Smith
Ian Rathbone (viola), Ferenc Szucs (cello), Michael Freyhan (piano), Anthony Pike (clarinet)
5. Quiet City, for English horn, trumpet & strings (from the incidental music) 10:07 (1940)
John Wilbraham (trumpet), Alison Alty (English Horn)
Two Pieces for string orchestra (arr. from 2 Pieces for string quartet) 9:19 (1923, 1928)
6. Lento Molto 5:20
7. Rondino 3:58
8. “Hoe down” from Rodeo, ballet 3:01 (1942)
Performed by: London Festival Orchestra conducted by Ross Pople
Recorded January 24&25, 1996 at The Warehouse, London UK