Copland/Harris

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Copland/Harris
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Symphony No. 3; Symphony No. 3
PERFORMER: Detroit SO/Neeme Järvi
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9474
On Vol. 10 of their American Series for Chandos, Neeme Järvi and his excellent Detroit SO tackle two of the most ambitious attempts at the Great American Symphony. In Roy Harris’s single-movement Third of 1937, Järvi sticks closely to the composer’s tempo markings, and the result is coherent and convincing. Particularly impressive is the rustling, Sibelius-like transitional passage of the third section – in which Leonard Bernstein, on his Sixties LP recording of this same coupling, made two cuts. Here, a perfectly judged acceleration leads inexorably to the gloriously strident trumpetings of the fugue.

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Copland’s forty-minute Third Symphony of 1946 is full of similarly assertive declamation: the introduction to the finale even incorporates his famous wartime Fanfare for the Common Man. Järvi again controls the pace well, so that such rhetorical passages are properly integrated into the score. But he seems more comfortable with the gently lyrical moments which follow in their wake; echoing, after all the sound and fury, Copland’s own ‘still, small voice’.

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Overall, a recommended coupling, brilliantly played, and generally well recorded. The Harris is especially welcome, as this is the only modern recording currently available in the UK. Now, what about his other 15 symphonies? Anthony Burton