Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

AARON COPLAND An Outdoor Overture ,Appalachian Spring - suite (original version thirteen instruments),Eight Poems of Emily Dickinson   * Marni Nixon (soprano) Pacific SO/Keith Clark rec California 1982, 1986, 1985 REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-22CD [ 57:40]

Save around 22% with
Amazon UK
Amazon US


 An Outdoor Overture (1938) 8.50 ADD
Appalachian Spring - suite (original version thirteen instruments) (1944) 26.45 DDD
Eight Poems of Emily Dickinson (1950) 22.05 * DDD

This is an unhackneyed and most welcome cross-section of Copland works. While it has been in the catalogue for years it is no disservice that it should be reviewed again. An Outdoor Overture (long a personal favourite in Copland's own CBS-Sony recording) is a vividly lively counterpart to all those defiantly vigorous overtures in which category I also place Arthur Bliss's Edinburgh Overture (worth tracking down folks!), Moeran's Overture for a Masque and Walton's Johannesburg Festival. The Copland breathes the unsullied air of the wide Western expanses but in this performance (enjoyable as it is) misses the fiery engagement of the composer's CBS version.

Appalachian Spring rings and sings with a dewy sense of renewal which is enhanced by the stripped down thirteen instrument version. Art in the service of simplicity is more easily engaged when the forces are of chamber dimensions. If you balance that with the access to greater colouristic range from a variety of instruments and a band of thirteen delivers close to the best of both worlds. I rate this performance very highly although my first preference would be for the complete ballet version.

Finally we come to the very rare Dickinson poems. These are put across with touching sepia-toned affection and good diction by the delightful Marni Nixon. It is interesting that Copland's regard for this poet carried over into the work of his pupil Leo Smit whose collection of Dickinson settings (superbly sung by Rosalind Rees) has recently been released by Bridge. The Copland settings are variously dedicated to some of the great names in American music: David Diamond, Elliott Carter, Alexei Haieff, Juan Orrego Salas, Irving Fine, Lukas Foss and Arthur Berger.

This set will be wanted by every Copland fan and is recommended accordingly.


Rob Barnett



Rob Barnett

Reviews from previous months

Reviews carry sales links but you can also purchase from:

Return to Index