COMPOSERS: Aaron Copland
ALBUM TITLE: Copland
WORKS: Fanfare for the Common Man; Billy the Kid Suite; Appalachian Spring Suite; Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo; El Salón México
PERFORMER: BBC Philharmonic/John Wilson
CATALOGUE NO: Chandos CHSA 5164 (hybrid CD/SACD)
I can’t remember any previous single-disc issue of Copland’s orchestral music as stuffed full of popular favourites as this one. The performances are superb. John Wilson, well known for his idiomatic accounts of American popular music of the era, shows an instinctive flair for Copland’s syncopated and changing rhythms, and brings out all the music’s touches of broad humour and intimate poetry. The BBC Philharmonic brass and percussion project the Fanfare for the Common Man in fine rhetorical style, and give the main works the right touch of American pizzazz. And the woodwind all make telling individual contributions; the strings are unanimous in attack throughout, and find convincing colours for everything from gliding Mexican melodies to folksy hoe-downs. The recording, made in the orchestra’s home at MediaCityUK in Salford, is high, wide and handsome, an especially good match for the wide-screen prairie landscapes at the beginning and end of Billy the Kid.
The best news is that this is announced as the first volume in a series. So there should be more in this thrilling vein to look forward to – and another time it’s likely to lead listeners a bit further off the beaten track.
To hear the BBC Music team give its verdict on this CD on our ‘First Listen’ podcast, click here.