To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. It also analyses reviews to verify trustworthiness.
This is one of my favourite CDs - the quality of the recording and the rendition of the music is excellent. The emotion and beauty if the music is very touching. I thoroughly recommend that you purchase this CD - for sure you won't regret it and will have a wonderful experience.
There's no question that Leonard Bernstein was the greatest champion of Copland's music and helped gain the composer even more recognition through all of the incredible recordings he made both on Columbia and Deutsche Grammophon. This particular recording, which, as long as I can remember, has remained in the catalog for years, is the perfect introduction to Copland's "Populist" period. Those wide-open vistas, lonely melodies, raucous Western rhythms are all captured with an irresistible charm, but also power under Bernstein.
"Appalachian Spring" is perhaps Copland's most well-known work. It was a ballet written for Martha Graham and it depicts a 19th Century farm land in Pennsylvania. It makes use of a Shaker tune titled "Simple Gifts," which Copland would incorporate into his song cycle "Old American Songs". There are two arrangements for "Appalachian Spring": one for a chamber ensemble of 13 instruments (I could be wrong about that count) and the second one for full orchestra. The arrangement for orchestra is the most commonly heard version of the two, but I urge listeners to acquire both arrangements of the work. "Billy the Kid" is another ballet that tells the story of supposedly one of the most notorious men to ever walk in the west. Basically this ballet, guides us on a journey through all of the events in Billy the Kid's time out west. Copland employs several cowboy tunes throughout the work. "Rodeo," also a ballet, is shorter in duration than "Appalachian Spring" and "Billy the Kid." "Rodeo" tells the story of a cowgirl and how she tries to wrangle herself a cowboy. In short, it's a lover story. I suppose this is the general jest of the work. The music is just so fantastic. I'm not going to say it's my favorite Copland work, but it's certainly one of mine. It has some of the most infectious rhythms I've heard and the melodies, like "Appalachian" and "Billy", are folk-based, which, like the other ballets, gives the music an earthiness. The last movement "Hoe-Down" has been heard countless times through commercials on American television and is probably the single most recognizable pieces of music in American classical music. I know those are bold words but it's got to be true.
Bernstein's performances are nothing short of brilliant. There have been many performances of these ballets through the years. Copland even conducting them himself with various orchestras (all of them excellent and worth hearing). Michael Tilson Thomas brings a different set of ears to these scores in his own RCA recording with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. That recording is definitely worth picking up as an alternative to Bernstein. Anyway, Bernstein's recording is the gold standard. Urgently recommended.
I grew up eagerly awaiting Leonard Bernstein's next Young People's Concert (I believe they were called). Back then I know him only as the conductor of the New York Philharmonic who seemed intent on educating anyone who would watch about the marvels of classical music. It was only later that I learned that he was one of the greatest American conductors who brought excitement to almost every work he conducted. And so it is with this album of Copland's most popular music creations, especially Appalachian Spring, the opening music each week for Walter Cronkite's 20th Century news of old show.
I love Aaron Copland's own performance of Appalachian Spring. It may be the definitive recording of the work, but Bernstein's is perhaps the most beloved. And it should be. In this emotion-laden performance, Bernstein infuses Appalachian Spring with plenty of good old Midwestern countryside. It is joyful, pensive, ebullient - just like we like to think of ourselves. It is Leonard Bernstein at his very best. Bernstein always liked to champion American music, and this album is a testament to that musical nationalism. The icing on the cake is the coda so well known. It is a hymn to the heartland of America, simple to triumphant but relaxing quickly to a peaceful, pastoral conclusion.
Rodeo and Billy the Kid, Copland's depiction of the left side of America, are full of Western swagger. You can see the rugged cowboys in their tall hats dancing and all that. The music after decades doesn't have the staying power of Appalachian Spring, but is more excitingly orchestrated. The performance is everything you could ask for and is played to the hilt.
The last piece is from Copland's 3rd Symphony but it originated as a commissioned fanfare for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. It was and is one of the finest fanfares ever written. I've heard it more times than I can count and still find it fascinating. Bernstein gives it the heft it deserves, but this is one time in the album that I regret that modern-day recording technology wasn't available yet. What this would have sounded like in SACD can only be imagined.
This disc of Copland/Bernstein/NYPO is one to be treasured. It should be an essential disc in any respectable classical collection. As such, it is most highly recommended!!!
Appalachian spring which was composed primarily as ballet music in 1945 was later arranged by Copland into an orchestral suite - The story told is a spring celebration of the American pioneers of the 1800s after building a new Pennsylvania farmhouse. Among the central characters are a newlywed couple, a neighbor, a revivalist preacher and his followers. Discounting the subject matter for the ballet and what the music refers to, below is the my subjective feeling of what I feel with this music - The first movement with slow expressiveness leads into a quick fire theme. A strong sense of American country and character permeates these works. Why does Copland music sound so distinctly American? The notes are open lines which are not overly lyrical or rounded. The music sounds very enterprising, reflecting grit and hard earned success due to toil. The music evokes for me grasslands, mountains, cowboys, and juvenile fun on horsebacks. The coda piece is more solemn and wise; To me it feels like the wisdom of the country men as in - When those young men have grown up and are mature and we reminisce their past and their legacy.
Rodeo - The ballet premiered in 1942 consisting of five sections: "Buckaroo Holiday", "Ranch House Party", "Corral Nocturne", "Saturday Night Waltz", and "Hoe-Down". The symphonic version omits "Ranch House Party", leaving the other sections relatively intact. In 'Buckaroo Holiday' - the dance like theme to me depicts cowboys (as it happens this movement is centered around a cowgirl and cowboys). In this movement, Aaron Copland's genius for orchestration shines through. All the instruments achieve transparency. Just the right instruments are composed to be played at the right time. The timbre and the weight of no instrument is opaque (blocking another instrument's tone). And what a brilliant way to end the movement with the triangle, percussion and orchestra. The Saturday night waltz - 3rd dance episode in this suite has sheer elegance and beauty. This one seems to me romantic or speaking of love. 'Hoe-down' is energetic, and has a strong jazz element. And On the 'Billy the kid' suite, When I listen to the gun battle movement, I feel like Bernstein got his style for the music in the opening section of West Side Story from here.
Bernstein's conducting style during his younger years provides the right impetus; these pieces just sound spectacular. It must be awe-inspiring to listen to these orchestral suites in a live concert. The music of Aaron Copland evokes a touching picture of American Country life. Copland was able to think up breathtakingly beautiful 'Americana' music or meld American Folksy music into orchestral arrangements which immediately put vivid pictures and landscapes which are very American in our mind. He is the American Sibelius - if listening to Sibelius makes you think of Finnish icy landscapes, Copland does the same for America.
This is a real good CD for your Copland collection!