An Outdoor Overture (1938) 8.50 ADD
Appalachian Spring - suite (original version thirteen instruments)
(1944) 26.45 DDD
Eight Poems of Emily Dickinson (1950) 22.05 * DDD
This is an unhackneyed and most welcome cross-section of Copland works. While
it has been in the catalogue for years it is no disservice that it should
be reviewed again. An Outdoor Overture (long a personal favourite
in Copland's own CBS-Sony recording) is a vividly lively counterpart to all
those defiantly vigorous overtures in which category I also place Arthur
Bliss's Edinburgh Overture (worth tracking down folks!), Moeran's
Overture for a Masque and Walton's Johannesburg Festival. The
Copland breathes the unsullied air of the wide Western expanses but in this
performance (enjoyable as it is) misses the fiery engagement of the composer's
Appalachian Spring rings and sings with a dewy sense of renewal which is
enhanced by the stripped down thirteen instrument version. Art in the service
of simplicity is more easily engaged when the forces are of chamber dimensions.
If you balance that with the access to greater colouristic range from a variety
of instruments and a band of thirteen delivers close to the best of both
worlds. I rate this performance very highly although my first preference
would be for the complete ballet version.
Finally we come to the very rare Dickinson poems. These are put across with
touching sepia-toned affection and good diction by the delightful Marni Nixon.
It is interesting that Copland's regard for this poet carried over into the
work of his pupil Leo Smit whose collection of Dickinson settings (superbly
sung by Rosalind Rees) has recently been released by Bridge. The Copland
settings are variously dedicated to some of the great names in American music:
David Diamond, Elliott Carter, Alexei Haieff, Juan Orrego Salas, Irving Fine,
Lukas Foss and Arthur Berger.
This set will be wanted by every Copland fan and is recommended accordingly.