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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


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Aaron COPLAND (1900 – 1990)
Fanfare for the Common Man [3:14]
Rodeo: Buckaroo Holiday [7:15]; Corral Nocturne [3:40]; Saturday Night Waltz [4:04]; Hoe-Down [3:12]
Appalachian Spring suite [22:19]
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra/Louis Lane
Recorded in Atlanta Symphony Hall on March 24th 1982
TELARC CD-80078 [44:15]



 

[Editor’s Note: the Telarc reissue programme of which this CD is part involves moving existing products, sometimes from the 1980s, off the full-price warehouse shelves and selling the self-same article at bargain price. This recording was made and first issued at full price before Copland’s death. If the cost of clearing ‘stale’ full price stock is that we have to live with outdated booklet details I, for one, am happy to live with the results. There is something rather appealing, even ‘sustainable’ about using old stock in this way giving it new life without adding to the world’s waste problems. And it’s the music that counts. That said I too would have reservations about a CD running for just short of 45 minutes.]

There is an unforgivable – I mean really unforgivable – gaffe on the case of this disc, repeated on the booklet within. “Aaron Copland (1900- )” it announces, implying that we are still waiting for the great man to die, at the age of 105 plus! Please see our heading for his correct dates. RIGHT, that off my chest (God it makes me cross), what about the music?

The Atlanta Symphony is a fine orchestra, and the standard of playing is very high indeed. Oddly, the weakest item is the famous Fanfare for the Common Man on track one. After the opening thumps of bass drum and tam-tam, the entry of the trumpets is weedy to the point of tentative – very much percentage play for studio purposes, I fear. After that, things improve steeply, and Rodeo receives a rollicking performance, with outstanding solos in “Buckaroo Holiday” from principal trombone and trumpet. The gentler middle movements come off well, too, with beautiful soft textures in “Corral Nocturne”, and a particularly stylish oboe solo in “Saturday Night Waltz”. The concluding “Hoe-Down” is great fun, and full of just the right kind of wild energy.

“Appalachian Spring” poses the greatest interpretative test for conductor and players, and here Louis Lane does well, characterising the various episodes sharply, yet managing the transitions between sections most effectively. Perhaps the introduction of Simple Gifts in the clarinet should be quieter and a little more diffident, but generally I found this a delightful performance, with the half-lights of the opening and closing music captured with complete understanding of the music’s nature – as you might well expect from an orchestra whose home town lies at the very foot of the Appalachian mountains themselves.

On a negative note, it has to be said that even at bargain price the disc doesn’t represent especially good value with a running time of just 44 minutes 15 seconds. Another couple of Copland works, maybe something a little more off the beaten track such as “Down a Country Lane” or the “Red Pony” film music would surely not have stretched the budget too much, and would greatly have enhanced the CD’s appeal.

Nevertheless, a fine disc, with a first-class recording to match the high standards of the performers. Such a pity, then, that they have been let down by sloppy packaging! Come on Telarc, keep your eye on the ball, and don’t let your superb artists down.

Gwyn Parry-Jones

 



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