A fair amount of Coplandís
orchestral music exists in piano versions.
These were mostly made by the composer,
sometimes as a stage in the composition
process. Apparently he always composed
at the keyboard and he gave public performances
of some of these works as piano duos
either with John Kirkpatrick or Leonard
Bernstein. The latter arranged El
Salón México for two
pianos two years after its first performance
was given in Mexico City. To my ears,
this is a most successful arrangement
and it receives a lively and committed
performance from Goldina and Loumbrozo.
The programme is given
in chronological order of composition.
Dance of the Adolescent and Music
for the Theater are early works.
This performance of the latter is a
world première recording of the
composerís version for one piano, four
hands. Music from the ballet Billy
the Kid is played on two instruments
and is represented by six movements
that Copland extracted from the complete
work and published separately. Interestingly,
the first performance of this work was
given by Ballet Caravan in 1938 using
a two-piano accompaniment. Unfortunately,
only two of the four dance episodes
from Rodeo were arranged by Gold
and Fizdale for two pianos but at least
they included the Hoe Down.
This fizzes along and sounds fresh
as new here. The highly syncopated Cuban
Dance is equally delightful in this
format. Finally, in Danza de Jalisco
occasional hand-clapping is used to
add some extra "oomph".
Arianna Goldina and
Rémy Loumbrozo are clearly in
their element in this repertoire and
miss no opportunity to have fun. They
are well-recorded and the stereo image
effectively separates the two instruments
(which are used in all these works except
Music for the Theater) to an
appropriate degree. The documentation
is generally good and includes notes
on each piece written by Arianna Goldina.
The date associated with Danza de
Jalisco on the rear inset (9159)
is an obvious error which is not even
an anagram of the correct date.
Coplandís two cowboy
ballets and El Salón México
are amongst his most important orchestral
works. They are also worth hearing in
two piano versions and this disc provides
a welcome opportunity to do just that.
Patrick C Waller