Saxophonist turned jazz pianist Marc Copland has been busy recording for a Switzerland based record label. He continues his high level of musicianship with his core trio, along with tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker and guitarist John Abercombie, both performing on selected tracks. Copland possesses a sensitive touch, while also residing as a well-versed swing and bop pianist.
For vibrant and powerful sound, the Antal Dorati Mercury recordings are a true revelation. As someone who enjoys yet is still learning to fully appreciate this music, it's clear that these recordings are special. Mostly 20th century recordings here, Stravinsky, Richard Strauss, Prokofiev, Copland. These composers liked to utilize the full orchestra, and here the listener is rewarded. Interesting too are the lesser known works, such as Gunther Schuller's 7 Studies on Themes of Paul Klee.
Dorati's rendition of Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) is a good place to start with these discs. His Richard Strauss tone poems are first rate, and Gershwin's An American in Paris is presented in its full orchestral glory.
This compilation covers 20 years of live recordings made by conductor Yevgeny Mravinsky and the then-named Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra for Erato. Mravinsky led that orchestra for nearly 50 years, from 1938 until his death. His last recording was that of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 12, made in 1984, found on Disc 3 here. His interpretations of Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky were highly regarded, so it's not surprising that several of their symphonies are here. There are also symphonies by Mozart and Beethoven in this set; tone poems by Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky; and orchestral excerpts from operas by Wagner, Glinka, and Glazunov. The final disc contains a rare recording of a rehearsal led by Mravinsky, something few outsiders were ever allowed to witness. Even though he was an elder statesman of Russian music at the time of these recordings, there is still precision and energy in his interpretations.
An all-too-rare new recording from Polyphony and Stephen Layton presents highlights from the choral repertoire by four twentieth-century American giants: Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland and Randall Thompson. Framed by Thompson’s understated favourites Alleluia and Fare Well, the programme includes Bernstein’s Missa brevis, Copland’s early set of four motets, and—of course—Barber’s inimitable Agnus Dei.
This programme features concert music by composers who also wrote film scores for Hollywood. While this was just one string to the considerable bows of Gershwin and Copland, Bernard Herrmann and Franz Waxman are best known for their music for Hitchcock films (Vertigo, North by Northwest, Marnie and Psycho for Herrmann; and Rebecca and The Paradine Case for Waxman). Centre stage is Gershwin’s Song-book, arranged by the composer for solo piano in order to present the songs ‘as George Gershwin plays them himself’.
…The Grand Canyon Suite by Grofe has that same cozy nostalgic feel further enhanced by some UNusual instrument placement and editing. A serious recording technician would probably laugh at the approach used by this orchestra and Living Stereo, but to me it's a silly but highly enjoyable masterpiece. The SACD Stereo sound is fantastic, and this is one of my SACD Top Picks!