COMPOSERS: Leonard Slatkin
ALBUM TITLE: Copland
WORKS: Symphony No. 3; Three Latin American Sketches
PERFORMER: Detroit Symphony Orchestra/ Leonard Slatkin
CATALOGUE NO: 8.559844
Leonard Slatkin is a highly experienced conductor of Copland, so it’s no surprise that his new reading of the Third Symphony (he previously recorded it with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra) should pack its punch so impressively.
Pacing can be tricky in the Molto moderato opening movement, but Slatkin’s astutely pitched tempo allows both a coherent sense of forward momentum and adequate elbow-room for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra strings to phrase eloquently. Heavy brass and timpani make their solemn impact, without pummelling the rest of the orchestra to inaudibility.
The Scherzo is rich in incident, Slatkin’s incisive but unhectic approach ensuring that the quick-fire percussion and chattery piano writing have time to register without diluting the music’s nervous energy and excitement. Plangent violin playing launches a notably introspective account of the slow movement, draped in anxious melancholy. The Detroit brass respond sonorously to the Fanfare for the Common Man material which launches the finale, though Slatkin rightly tilts the music towards nobility, not bombast. The movement’s coda is slightly longer than usual, as Slatkin elects to include cuts that until recently have been standard. They make little difference to this tautly argued, rhythmically buoyant version of Copland’s Symphony, one of the most cogent currently on the market.
Sharp ensemble work from the Detroit players distinguishes the outer movements of the Three Latin American Sketches, and Slatkin again impresses with his ability to distil genuine atmosphere in the central ‘Paisaje Mexicano’.
This is a richly enjoyable disc, and excellent value at the Naxos asking price.
Listen to an excerpt of this recording here.