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.
This is an excellent collection of Aaron Copland’s early orchestral works, written when the composer was in his twenties and mid-thirties. These pieces have not achieved the notoriety of Mr. Copland’s later “populist” compositions and contain more modernist devices. Some of these feature jazz elements (such as the Piano Concerto, Music for the Theater and the Dance Symphony, which was drawn from materials composed for the “Grogh” ballet). Despite the complexity of these selections, the music is both exhilarating and interesting, albeit challenging. Repeat listenings are required if one wishes to fully appreciate these compositions…
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.
How much do you like Leonard Bernstein? Carnegie Hall is betting you like him a lot as it has collaborated with Sony to prepare this 10-CD set, The Original Jacket Collection: Bernstein Conducts Bernstein. It contains every album Bernstein made of his own music for CBS Records, beginning with his 1950 recording of the Symphony No. 2, "The Age of Anxiety" – predating his tenure with the New York Philharmonic by nearly a decade – to the ballet Dybbuk in 1974, recorded with the New York City Ballet Orchestra several years after his departure.
An enjoyable collection for White fans, although one might prefer one's spirituals on a bigger scale. That said, Willard White makes these well-known songs seem much more intimate and reflective, private rather than public. Swing low, pressed into service at last year's rugby world cup, is sung rather faster than usual. That's no bad thing, as the song can be made to sound rather lachrymose. For White there is a sense of eager anticipation, that heaven really is at hand. The Copland songs are enjoyable too and are sung with apparent enjoyment. They were all new to me and I can see myself returning to them for their witty lyrics and sense of fun. The Chandos recording is good and the voice is well caught. The accompaniment is discreet and intelligent, making this a delightful disc all round.
I'm a big fan of Copland. His music can be dramatic, sad, joyful, and just plain fun. I also think his music is a good vehicle for personal expression of the performer/conductor. I don't think this is true for all composers–-I cringe at some interpretations of Bach–-but I usually enjoy it when a performance of Appalachian Spring or Bill the Kid contains some individual stamp that indicates the performer is really feeling and enjoying what they are doing. The combination of Copland's timeless compositions and subtle playing effects can be very sophisticated indeed.
For a long time Pierre Boulez has been one of the most important conductors of the 20th century, certainly when it comes to the execution of modern composers such as Berg, Webern, Schönberg or Bartok.
A must for the amateurs of Modern Classical Music