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Aaron COPLAND (1900 - 1990)
Fanfare for the Common Man (1944) [3.18]
Rodeo: Concert Suite (1942) [18.16]
Appalachian Spring: (Suite) (1945) [22.19]
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra/Louis Lane
Recorded at 50kHz 2.0 stereo in Powell Symphony Hall, St. Louis, Missouri, 28 March 1981.
Paul HINDEMITH (1895 - 1963)

Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes by Carl Maria Weber (1943) [20.13]
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra/Robert Shaw
Recorded at 50kHz 2.0 stereo in Woodruff Symphony Hall, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 18 November 1980.
CD tracks resampled to 44.1kHz 2.0 stereo utilising the DSD system.
Notes in English.
Hybrid SACD playable on all cd players.
TELARC SACD 60648 [64.38]


Comparison Recordings:
Copland works only: Lane, Atlanta SO Telarc CD 80078
Fanfare: Mitchell, Washington D.C. National SO. Westminster monophonic LP XWN 18284
Symphonic Metamorphosis, Hindemith, BPO. DG [ADD] 427 407-2
Symphonic Metamorphosis, Kubelik, CSO. [1953 mono ADD] Mercury Living Presence 289 434 397-2
Symphonic Metamorphosis, Ormandy, Philadelphia SO. Sony [ADD] CDM 65175

Recently I commented on the difference in quality* between Copland’s orchestral music and his chamber music. Such a range is not unusual in composers’ overall catalogues as works written for different purposes, for different audiences, call for different approaches and different degrees of creative involvement. There is likewise a noticeable gulf in quality between the orchestral Grieg and the chamber Grieg. Hardly anybody remembers that Wagner wrote a symphony and a piano sonata.

In the 1950s Copland’s brief Fanfare for the Common Man was the hi-fi demonstration piece extraordinaire, especially in the Westminster recording with Mitchell and the Washington DC National Symphony Orchestra. The expansion of the fanfare into the final movement of the Third Symphony is surprisingly successful, although currently available recordings of the work do not do it justice. We languish in want of a reissue of the Dorati/Minneapolis SO Mercury Living Presence monophonic recording, MG 50018.

The annotator remarks on Copland’s "1930’s...leftist" sympathies for ordinary people, sympathies which obviously find no resonance in the twenty-first century corporate-ethic USA. Maybe again some day.

Rodeo [Ro-DAY-o] in Latin American Spanish means roughly "fooling around" and has been Americanised [ROAD-ee-oh] to refer to a small town festival where young men compete for prizes as they demonstrate their skills in horsemanship and the practical arts of managing herds of grazing range cattle. Collateral celebrations include lots of drinking, dancing, and brawling. I’ve been to real rodeos** whereas Copland, city born and bred, was writing to the popular image of the rodeo and never actually saw one. But perhaps for that very reason he captured the legendary spirit very closely.

Appalachian Spring won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1945 and is widely regarded as a masterpiece. These recordings by Louis Lane are everything one could want in terms of brilliant sound and energetic, yet thoughtful performance. The intriguing cross-rhythms of Rodeo are especially well delineated, as are the moments of atmospheric repose and nostalgia in both works. I confess I actually enjoyed them.

In the case of Hindemith, his works for various combinations of instruments are of remarkably even quality. The recent recording of the once excoriated opera Die Harmonie der Welt shows us that it is in fact the crowning masterpiece of his career. The work on this disk, his most popular orchestral work, was written for the purpose of being a popular orchestral work and in it he succeeded brilliantly. It also serves as an entertaining demonstration of his musical aesthetic and helps a new listener come to appreciate his other works as well. In the outer movements there is very little actual composition, just re-orchestration of the originals — or perhaps re-conception for the orchestra is a better term. But the second movement is a thoroughly original tone poem based on Weber’s music for Turandot, probably an allegory of World War II where the Nazis, represented by the Turandot theme, gradually grow in awesome power to be blown away by the American Army, symbolised by the fugal jazz trumpets following a big cymbal crash. In August of 1943, this hadn’t actually happened yet, but there seemed little doubt, and a great deal of hope, that it would soon. Whether the bell cadence is really a satire on the one in Parsifal remains conjectural, but only goes to show the delightful humour and complexity of the work (there may even be a whiff of Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony), a sterling demonstration of orchestral virtuosity and recording. All concerned here perform brilliantly, even in comparison with classic recordings by the CSO and Philadelphia SO. Here there is nothing of the preacher in Shaw’s manner, in this work he is shaking his butt and having a great time.

Hindemith’s own recording, in dated but very clear sound, is also excellent and well worth hearing.

The sound on the CD tracks is very good, even compared to the SACD tracks; if you have the earlier CD release of these Copland recordings, you will notice a significant improvement with this disk in your CD player. The Hindemith recording is new to CD.

*And committed an embarrassing gaffe. It’s all in print.

**The rodeo in Riggins, Idaho, is the season opener, always the first weekend in May. Make your motel reservations at least one year in advance.

Paul Shoemaker

 



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