One of the most grown-up review sites around


Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


16th-19th November


Shostakovich 4, 11 Nelsons
Transparent Granite!


Nothing but Praise


BrucKner 4 Nelsons
the finest of recent years.

superb BD-A sound

This is a wonderful set


Telemann continues to amaze


A superb disc

Performances to cherish

An extraordinary disc.

rush out and buy this

I favour above all the others

Frank Martin - Exemplary accounts

Asrael Symphony
A major addition


Another Bacewicz winner


match any I’ve heard


An outstanding centenary collection


personable, tuneful, approachable


a very fine Brahms symphony cycle.


music that will be new to most people


telling, tough, thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded


hitherto unrecorded Latvian music

 


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990)
Orchestral Works, Vol. 3
An Outdoor Overture (1938) [8:47]
Symphony No.1 for large orchestra (1926-28) [22:51]
Statements (1932-35) [19:33]
Dance Symphony for large orchestra (arranged Copland from the ballet Grohg, 1929) [16:59]
BBC Philharmonic/John Wilson
rec. 15-16 June 2016, MediaCityUK, Salford, England. DSD
CHANDOS CHSA5195 SACD [68:17]

Reviewed as 24/96 download with pdf booklet from eclassical.com.

Perhaps exposure to Copland’s music over more years than I care to think has made me less susceptible than Ian Lace – review – to finding it harsh, brittle and spiky. If IL ended by liking the album despite his reaction to the composer’s manner, I came to the same conclusion because of my liking for that manner. What we can easily agree on is the ‘verve and panache’ with which John Wilson and the BBC Phil perform all this music.

Certainly, there’s nothing spiky about the opening Outdoor Overture, a work which speaks of the wide-open spaces of the classic Western movies. It’s roughly contemporary with his ballet Billy the Kid and has much in common both with that work and his masterpiece, the Third and final Symphony (1944-46) and Wilson and the BBC Phil bring out its attraction.

Symphony No.1, too, has many moments of tenderness – try the contemplative opening of the first movement. Though the revised version omits the organ – the work was originally the Organ Symphony, as performed on Volume 2 of this series (CHSA5171 – Recording of the Month) – it retains many characteristics of the concerto form and that adds to the appeal. Even though the Age of Anxiety rears its head in the finale, there’s nothing too angular in this work, especially in this performance. The main rival, which also couples Symphony No.1 with the Dance Symphony and throws in the Short Symphony for good measure, comes from Marin Alsop on one of the many fine recordings, many of them of American music, which she has made for Naxos.

I share Dan Morgan’s enthusiasm for this recording – review – and it can be obtained for considerably less outlay than the new Chandos: as little as $5.83 if downloaded from eclassical.com. It’s 16-bit only, as against the 24/96 and SACD Chandos, but it sounds very well. Subscribers to Naxos Music Library can stream both recordings there. Pay your money and take your pick, but bear in mind how much of her mentor Bernstein’s feeling for Copland’s music – and much else – Alsop has retained1.

Statements seems to me one of those works where unless the listener is concentrating, it’s easy to get lost and I must admit that I don’t find the short descriptions of each section helpful. Quiet City is another such work where I find it easy to lose the thread.

Forget the fact that the Dance Symphony was based on music from the ballet Grohg, something of which I think the notes in the booklet make a little too much, and enjoy it in a performance which doesn’t try too hard to bring out the grotesque. In Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger, it would have been almost impossible for Copland not to be influenced by Stravinsky and other contemporary composers. By comparison with The Rite of Spring and especially with Prokofiev’s Le Pas d’Acier (1926), the Dance Symphony is a cooing dove. There’s plenty of Americana, too, in the finale. And who better to bring that out than John Wilson, renowned for his proms performances of the musicals?2 If you want the music to sound a touch spikier, you may prefer Marin Alsop here.  Perhaps, as sometimes elsewhere, Wilson tempers the music a little too much.  Copland's own rougher-edged CBS/Sony recordings of these early works seem to have fallen by the way, though Statements remains available to stream or download in a non-Sony transfer.

Despite my slight preference for Marin Alsop’s rather less compromising manner in the symphonies and the availability of her Naxos recording at budget price, Copland lovers who buy the new Chandos recording should not regret their decision, especially if the availability of SACD or 24-bit sound appeals.

1 Bernstein’s CBS/Sony recording of the Organ Symphony (with E Power Biggs) and Symphony No.3, still one of the best recordings of that masterpiece, can be downloaded in lossless sound for 3.49 from Qobuz – a wonderful bargain, albeit that the booklet is a sketchy, all-purpose affair.

2 That’s Entertainment: music from the musicals (EMI/Warner 0288452 – Recording of the Month DL Roundup). Amazon UK currently offer the CD for 5.99 – less than their price for their low-bit-rate mp3 download or any other download I can find.

Brian Wilson  

Previous review: Ian Lace



 




Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount


Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger