Copland conducts Copland
Robert E. Nylund | Ft. Wayne, Indiana United States | 11/26/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Aaron Copland was, admittedly, NOT a great conductor. Nevertheless, musicians enjoyed working with him, possibly because he was so exuberant and enthusiastic. One friend said Copland might tell musicians to "hit a home run." He certainly wanted the musicians to have fun and it's clear that usually happened. Along the way, Copland did manage to give his interpretations of his own music, setting a standard of how it should be played.It's very apparent in Copland's numerous recordings for Columbia (now available on Sony) that the composer left an important legacy. Among the more original American composers, Copland was distinctly American. He enjoyed a fine musical education from Nadia Boulanger in Paris that gave his compositions some added depth. Initially, Copland followed George Gershwin's example and made considerable use of jazz and blues in his works. Copland himself said he felt he soon exhausted the possibilities of popular music and then turned to American folk music.A trip to Mexico, where he met and befriended Carlos Chavez, resulted in Copland's first great musical triumph, "El Salon Mexico." It became the only Copland work to ever be conducted by Arturo Toscanini with the NBC Symphony Orchestra. On this CD one has a chance to hear the composer himself conducting this 1936 triumph.This writer has long enjoyed Copland's wonderful music for the 1948 Technicolor western "The Red Pony," an adaptation of the John Steinbeck story by Lewis Milestone that starred Myrna Loy and a young Robert Mitchum. The music is such an important ingredient in this classic film. Fortunately, Copland extracted a concert suite from the film score and it is included in this CD.Copland wrote other film scores, too, and we get to hear some of the music he wrote for the 1940 film adaptation of Thornton Wilder's very American play, "Our Town."The CD includes some additional Latin-influenced works, "Danzon Cubano," which rivals Gershwin's "A Cuban Overture," and "Three Latin American Sketches." These are very colorful, exciting works.Perhaps, as some have said, the London Symphony Orchestra and the New Philharmonic Orchestra were not up to par in these recordings. Some of that may have been Copland's fault. Still, these are competent performances and they convey what the composer wanted."
Two nice pieces by Copland...
Jeffrey Harris | Texas | 04/12/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"On El Salon Mexico, Danzon Cubano, and Three Latin American Sketches, you will wish for a truly great conductor (like Bernstein) who could really make these pieces "jump". The rhythms are a bit slack and the interpretations therefore somewhat staid under Copland's baton.
The reasons I have treasured this disc for many years are the Red Pony Suite and the Our Town Suite, which are more lyrical pieces. The Red Pony is more common than Our Town, but both are really nice to hear. If you hear the Red Pony once, you won't forget it. Of course these pieces are not as good as Appalachian Spring or Billy the Kid, but once you've learned those pieces, you come to wish for more music by Copland to enjoy...here it is! By the way, you will like these pieces a lot more than the suite from "The Tender Land" or some of Copland's other movie music.
I notice other reviewers complaining about the orchestras. I guess they're a lot pickier than I am...if you haven't heard this music yet, I think you'll enjoy it. Makes a nice change from the 300th playing of Rodeo!