Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man; Appalachian Spring Suite; Symphony No. 3

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LABELS: Reference Recordings
WORKS: Fanfare for the Common Man; Appalachian Spring Suite; Symphony No. 3
PERFORMER: Minnesota Orchestra/Eiji Oue
This centenary tribute to Copland has a lot going for it. The programme is a neat one, combining three works from the years 1942-6: the famous Fanfare, the masterly ballet Appalachian Spring (in the familiar orchestral suite) and the ambitious Third Symphony, which echoes Appalachian Spring in its third movement, and incorporates the Fanfare into its finale. The recording is outstanding, allowing the hall acoustic to play a full part but still giving every instrument pin-sharp clarity. The orchestra (which as the Minneapolis Symphony made some pioneering Copland recordings) plays not only with accuracy, but also with the right sonorities: the woodwind are crisp, the brass ring out boldly, the strings are breathtakingly tender at the start of the Symphony. And the orchestra’s music director Eiji Oue gives thoroughly idiomatic performances, perhaps dwelling a little too long on a few spots in Appalachian Spring, but capturing the Symphony’s blend of pastoral intimacy and rhetorical grandeur. There are some fine recordings of these works in the catalogue, not least those by Copland himself and by Oue’s mentor Leonard Bernstein. But if you have a gap in your collection for this particular programme in first-class sound, this disc will fill it very nicely. Anthony Burton