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Classical - Released June 4, 2013 | Naxos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions La Clef RESMUSICA - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Conductor Leonard Slatkin has recorded Aaron Copland's much-loved Rodeo before, with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra for Angel in the early 1990s. That recording was quite popular in its day, but this new collection of four dance pieces, representative of Slatkin's late-career flowering in Detroit, is at least its equal. One advantage is the inclusion of the little-performed Dance Panels (1959/1962), a transitional work between Copland's populist manner and his full-scale capitulation to modernist diktat. Slatkin actually makes a good case for it here, with vigorous rhythms cutting through the extended harmonies piled atop the composer's characteristic infectious tunes. Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony also do very well with Rodeo. Slatkin fills in a lot of the musical spaces with small details that add spiky, angular rhythms, reserving the full payoff for the final Hoe Down movement. El Salón México also receives an attractive performance, with only the Danzón Cubano of 1942 lacking something in the way of rhythmic zip. The work of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, an organization that reached the brink of disaster and has returned, is also worthy of note; there are few junctures where you can know that you are dealing with a group of preponderantly young players. No doubt Slatkin deserves the lion's share of the credit for this: he has forged an interpretation attuned to the capabilities of the organization he's working with: urgent, a bit rough. The ensemble sounds great in its longstanding home, downtown Detroit's Orchestra Hall, with contributions from the hall's house engineer, Matt Pons. Well worth the time even of those wondering whether they need yet more Copland. © TiVo
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Classical - Released September 9, 2016 | Naxos

Hi-Res Booklet
The second volume in Leonard Slatkin's series on Naxos of the ballets of Aaron Copland presents the seldom-played Hear Ye! Hear Ye! (1934) and the enormously popular Appalachian Spring (1944). The music for Hear Ye! Hear Ye! is rhythmically brusque, insistent, and expressively hard-edged, accompanying scenes of a murder in a Chicago nightclub and a courtroom trial with jazz-inflected dances and angular melodies pitted against strong dissonances. Most often heard as a suite, Appalachian Spring is offered here in its complete version, and it is the opposite of Hear Ye! Hear Ye! in its gentle evocation of nature and rural life. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra gives Slatkin emotionally appropriate performances of both works, emphasing the gritty urban ambience in Hear Ye! Hear Ye! and the naive sweetness of Appalachian Spring, all the while communicating Copland's special style of Americana without caricature. Listeners will find both performances engaging and memorable, though those who are easily startled should be aware of the loud gunshots in Scene XII and toward the end of Scene XVI in Hear Ye! Hear Ye! © TiVo
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Classical - Released June 9, 2017 | Naxos

Hi-Res Booklet
Premièred in 1946, a year after the end of World War II, Copland’s iconic Third Symphony was described by the composer as “a wartime piece” – or, more accurately one might say, an end-of-war piece – “intended to reflect the euphoric spirit of the country at the time” The fourth movement, heard on this recording in its original uncut form, opens by quoting one of his most well known pieces, Fanfare for the Common Man written 1942, some accents of which already appear in the first movement, as a matter of fact. What is less known is that after consultation with Leonard Bernstein, Copland made some serious alterations to a few passages in this work. Only recently has the original version been made available to musicians. Most striking among these changes is the elongated coda, which adds a broader and richer palette of sonority to the already boisterous proceedings. It is this original version that Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony have chosen to record – this is a recent recording, 2015, not a mere re-release, mind you. As for the companion piece on this album: Copland described the Three Latin American Sketches “as being just what the title says.” (even though two of the three movement are more specifically Mexican, it might be added.) “The tunes, the rhythms and the temperament of the pieces are folksy, while the orchestration is bright and snappy and the music sizzles along.” Yes, folksy the sketches may be, but in Coplands highly polished orchestration and harmonic world, as complex as Ravel’s or Debussy’s Spain. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released March 8, 2019 | Naxos

Hi-Res Booklet
Since becoming conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin has issued a variety of recordings. He has been able to call the shots as to repertory, and the results have generally been worthwhile. With this Copland release he and the orchestra have outdone themselves. Copland has always been one of Slatkin's specialties; he gets the peculiarly American mix of broadness and subtlety in the composer's music, and his readings of the big ballets are as fine as any on the market. Here you get the complete Billy the Kid, less often heard than the familiar Suite, and containing the solitary "Billy in the Desert" to match the card game nocturne, both hypnotically done. The real news here, however, is Grohg, written in 1925 at the suggestion of Copland's teacher, Nadia Boulanger, performed once in 1932, and then abandoned until the early 1990s. Performances are rare, but Slatkin's reading is good enough to change that. Having been given the task of writing a ballet and having recently seen the film Nosferatu, Copland asked the director Harold Clurman for a scenario, received a surreal tale in which the titular sorcerer animates a variety of personalities, and went to town with a score that reflects various fashions of the 1920s. There is a bit of jazz (paired, significantly, with the sorcerer's revived opium addict), some highly dissonant passages, perhaps even a bit of twisted-up Grieg. And yet, all of it somehow sounds like Copland, and there are foreshadowings aplenty of his mature style. Copland himself thought enough of the music to reuse some of it in his Symphony No. 2 ("Short Symphony"), and you couldn't ask for a better combination than Slatkin and the Detroiters in bringing out his personality in the music. Highly recommended. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 18, 2008 | Naxos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
While Aaron Copland's Symphony No. 3 is viewed as being one of his most characteristic masterworks, his earlier efforts in the form of symphony -- including at least four separate projects -- are not nearly as well celebrated. In Naxos' Copland: Dance Symphony, conductor Marin Alsop, known for her special facility with "classic" American works of this kind, leads the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in what might be termed Copland's symphonic "outtakes," symphonies that Copland undertook, but that really didn't make it to the mantle of the Symphony No. 3. For Copland, the unnumbered Dance Symphony (1925) was a matter of damage control, an attempt to rescue music written for his early ballet Grohg (1922-1925) that had no hope of being staged; Copland remarked that he didn't number it "because it is really not a symphony in the traditional sense." However, it won him an RCA Victor-sponsored competition in 1929, Copland's first such honor, and has gained some middleweight following as a work; it has been recorded by Copland himself, Antal Dorati, and a live recording of Leonard Bernstein leading the work surfaced long after Bernstein died. Alsop seems to have prepared it well and provides it with a lovely sense of shape not found in other recordings; she has referred to its palpitating conclusion, "Dance of Mockery," as being like "Billy the Kid meets Jaws" and Alsop's enthusiasm about it carries over into her interpretation. More readily recognizable as Copland is the Short Symphony, numbered as "No. 2" (1933), in which his trademark rhythmic vocabulary comes into contact with a slightly more tart harmonic profile than might be readily associated with him, although this short, multi-movement work contains some ideas later recycled into Appalachian Spring. This, too, has gained some traction, though mostly in the last decades of the twentieth century when the complex rhythms Copland calls for were more germane to standard orchestral performance; in 1951, Copland wrote to conductor William Strickland, "the Short Symphony is frightfully difficult and should not be attempted unless you have plenty of rehearsal time." It appears that whatever the Short Symphony might need, it has gotten here, as this is the best of the three performances on this Naxos disc; one can really feel the craftsmanship and love that went into it, and it really packs a punch. The toughest nut to crack is the Symphony No. 1 (1928), which is merely a recasting of the Symphony for organ and orchestra into standard orchestral garb, a stopgap against the odd instrumentation of the source work; Copland had no way of knowing that it ultimately would be the original that would catch on. Even though Alsop does a really fine job in representing this symphony with its best face on -- it is an exceedingly rare work for Copland, only recorded twice before -- this is clearly the weak sister among the three; it takes so long to get off the ground, and the noisy, Stravinskian finale -- while in itself exciting -- is out of balance with the rest of the work. Alsop has expressed her fascination for Copland's off-brand orchestral music, and one can be grateful for Naxos' Copland: Dance Symphony for representing Copland's early orchestral works in such a clear cut and accomplished fashion, hitting the high points where they might be found. However, Copland's struggle to produce a decent symphony was best realized in the Symphony No. 3 and his talent overall best suited to ballet; that doesn't limit our perception of him in the way it might some other composers whose works for the stage tend to minimize efforts in other mediums. While posterity might not be wrong in elevating Copland's Symphony No. 3 above the others, what Alsop has achieved here is likely the best possible representation of what remains, and as such, commends itself to anyone who wants to know more about this part of Aaron Copland's legacy. © TiVo
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Classical - Released February 21, 2020 | National Symphony Orchestra

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
It will be interesting to compare the Billy The Kid from this new recording – captured live in June 2019 – by Gianandrea Noseda, whose insatiable curiosity for international music (this is after all a seminal piece of American repertoire written by Copland in 1938) was evidenced by his magnificent collection of Italian music for Chandos, with the older version by Morton Gould for RCA in 1958. Less concerned with the narrative and evocative aspects of ballet, the Italian maestro conducts Billy The Kid like a grand symphonic suite, nonetheless relishing the marvellous originality the American composer employs in his orchestration. Familiar with the music of Central Europe, Gianandrea Noseda also presents a sleek and light (initial Allegro molto) version of Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony with beautiful polyphonic counterpoints at the head of his new orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington. Some might say that the sound recording lacks definition, but you can only admire Noseda’s constantly fluid and flexible rhythm, vivacious and singing. This first release on the American orchestra’s label leaves you impatient and wanting more! © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz
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Classical - Released November 24, 2017 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
This well-known monographic album devoted to Aaron Copland is also a joyful symbol of the long friendship that united a young, nineteen-year-old Bernstein with one of the greatest American composers. The two men, separated by an age difference of eighteen years, met on campus at Harvard during a modern dance show. While Copland was already a well-respected composer, Leonard Bernstein remained a complete unknown, full of talents and projects. The elder helped the young musician by recommending him to the Curtis Institute, and then the Tanglewood Music Festival. Grateful, Bernstein played Copland’s music his whole life out of affection as well as genuine passion. Released in 1962, this LP features three ballets. Appalachian Spring, composed in 1944 for Martha Graham, tells the story of American pioneers by citing numerous folk songs of that time, including Shaker Dance that acts as a link between the eight movements of the piece. El Salón Mexico, originally a purely orchestral piece, is the idealised representation of a Mexican folk-song salon, even if the influence of Stravinsky is clear. Based on scores bought in situ by the composer, several styles of music shine through, from the most popular to the most academic. Music for the Theater, composed in 1925, is a string of small pieces inspired by jazz music that caused quite a scandal in conservative concert halls in the 1920s! © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released March 1, 2012 | Reference Recordings

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Classical - Released March 13, 2020 | SFS Media

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Aaron Copland's Symphony No. 3, or, as he preferred to call it, Third Symphony, is generally classed with his populist, Americanist works of the late 1930s and early 1940s, and indeed it quotes and is partly built on one of the most popular of those works, the Fanfare for the Common Man of 1942. Yet a fuller overview makes clear that it doesn't quite fit with the likes of Rodeo and Appalachian Spring, or even really the Fanfare, which it alters and puts into new contexts; it might be regarded as a fantasy on the Fanfare. There are few or no hints of popular music, folk rhythms, or jazz, which were the hallmarks of Copland's popular style. By the standards of the time, the work was oriented toward tonality, but less so than Copland's other works of the period, and really it belongs in a class by itself. It is the distinctive combination of the elevated symphonic tradition with middle-period Copland that conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony capture in this live 2018 recording. From the work's early champion Leonard Bernstein on down, conductors have favored high-energy approaches to the work, but Tilson Thomas is careful, detailed, and often noble. The Fanfare is present, but rather than overwhelming the rest of the music, its open fifths shimmer through delicately, and the alterations of the pure Fanfare in the finale's introduction are emphasized. The delay of Tilson Thomas' retirement ceremonies in San Francisco were occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic, and this has been all to the good as various gems from the vaults have surfaced. This release earned a 2020 Grammy nomination for Best Orchestral Performance. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 2, 2018 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet
This is the fourth in the BBC Philharmonic's series of Copland's orchestral music under conductor John Wilson, and it retains the strengths of the earlier releases. One of those strengths is the exposure of Copland works that have fallen into obscurity, generally for no good reason, and that virtue is on special display here. The two short pieces at the end of the program, Letter from Home and Down a Country Lane, the latter arranged for school orchestras, are rarely played, and both are marvelous examples of Copland's melodic gift. The Connotations of 1962, one of Copland's few ventures into the 12-tone system, has also been avoided by programmers who have a host of tonal, broadly popular Copland scores from which to choose. Wilson gets the key challenge with this work, which is to find the characteristic Copland beneath the modernist overtones. The Symphony No. 3 from the mid-1940s, performed in its original version, is not exactly rare, but the reworked Fanfare for the Common Man in the finale is less common than the freestanding work itself. The symphony suggests an American Shostakovich, minus the folk elements (which Copland studiously avoided) and the sardonic edge. The BBC Philharmonic may not have the silken quality of the Koussevitsky-era Boston Symphony for which the work was composed, but it comes close; sample the clean string work in the slow movement. Another fine Copland release from across the pond. © TiVo
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Classical - Released February 26, 2016 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
The British conductor John Wilson is a specialist in light music known for his renditions of, among other music, American film scores. You might think he'd be a natural for Copland, and so he may well be for non-American listeners. In fact, what you get here is a set of readings of Copland standards that are shorn of quite a few accretions of American tradition. It's in the syncopations that you notice the differences most: their zip is tamped down, and in general the broad popular gestures of the music are deemphasized. The result is angular, rather Stravinskian Copland that has been thought out anew. More broadly, there is an effort made not to settle into and luxuriate in the big tunes that for many listeners define the Copland experience. It all makes sense on its own terms, and Copland himself saw a unity among the various phases of his career rather than dividing it into accessible and stylistically progressive aspects. Sample El Salón México (track two) for a fair representation of Wilson's approach, and also for the generally strong orchestral work and the crackling MediaCityUK studio sound from Chandos, a major attraction in itself. This is offbeat rather than mainstream Copland, but (therefore) of considerable interest. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 5, 2018 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet
Aficionados unfamiliar with Copland’s Dance Symphony might well be surprised by the sometimes grim, even Gothic, nature of a piece with a title more logically suggesting a rather carefree spirit. The dark aura of the work is a residue of its origin as a ballet on a grotesque vampire theme, composed in 1922-25 but neither staged nor performed complete in concert during its composer’s lifetime. The initial stimulus for this one-act ballet was Murnau’s expressionist film Nosferatu, at the time when Copland was studying with Nadia Boulanger in France. The work boasts numerous dynamic rhythmic patterns which Copland readily confessed were influenced by Stravinsky and jazz. The programme goes on with Statements (1932-34), ‘a manly bouquet, fresh and sweet and sincere and frank and straightforward’ according to Virgil Thomson’s review published in the New York Herald Tribune. Statements falls into the distinctively modernist genre of pithy, dissonant miniatures, not unlike what Prokofiev might have written during that same period. Copland later would refer to Statements as his ‘hard-bitten’ pieces, their gritty soundscapes very different from his more popular works which engaged with melodious folk traditions. Copland continued his close friendship with Nadia Boulanger after his return to the United States from Paris in the autumn of 1924, and celebrated it with the composition of a Symphony for organ and orchestra, which she first performed in January 1925 in New York, with Walter Damrosch conducting the New York Symphony. After the conclusion of the piece, Damrosch infamously told the audience that if a composer could write a work such as this at the age of only twenty-three then ‘within five years he will be ready to commit murder’. Although he was pleased with the work, Copland soon came to realize that the lack of major venues housing organs meant that a version for orchestra alone would be assured of more performances. He subsequently reworked the entire piece, a process which mostly required straightforward substitutions of the organ material with additional parts for woodind, brass, and piano. The newly configured Symphony No. 1 was given its first performance by Ansermet and the Berlin Philharmonic in 1931, and it is this version that is here recorded by the BBC Philharmonic orchestra. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released November 24, 2017 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Classical - Released November 2, 2018 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released November 3, 2000 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released September 2, 2016 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles Classica
The second volume in Chandos' audiophile series of the orchestral works of Aaron Copland is devoted to four seldom recorded compositions: the Symphony for Organ and Orchestra (1924), the Symphonic Ode (1927-1929), the Symphony No. 2, "Short Symphony" (1931), and the Orchestral Variations (1957), which is an arrangement of the Piano Variations (1930). The dates may give clues to the experimental nature of these early works, which Copland composed well before discovering his American vernacular style in Billy the Kid, Rodeo, and Appalachian Spring. Instead of the broad, folk-like themes and homespun character of those pieces, here Copland's music is knottier and more abstruse, and his tonality at times borders on atonality, particularly in the Orchestral Variations. Yet Copland's mastery of orchestration and skill at developing even the thorniest material into meaningful expressions makes the music accessible, even in the rather cerebral and meandering Organ Symphony, which seems to explore chromaticism without a clear direction. John Wilson leads the BBC Philharmonic in these committed performances, and the fullness and warmth of the orchestra contribute greatly to the music's appeal, making these early scores accessible to new listeners who never suspected the modernist side of Copland. © TiVo
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Symphonic Music - Released December 24, 2002 | Naxos

Booklet
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Classical - Released January 1, 1986 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Classical - Released July 4, 2008 | Warner Classics